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Gloucestershire college responds to mandatory jabs criticism

A Gloucestershire college is insisting that getting the Covid jab will be mandatory for all students wishing to live on campus.

Hartpury University and Hartpury College became the first UK higher education establishment to say a Covid-19 jab will be required for those living in student accommodation and for accessing sporting activities but it doesn't apply to regular academic sessions.

But a major student body has responded by saying that while it supported Covid vaccination, the measure should not be imposed in a 'punitive way'.

And campaign group UsForThem said the directive was in danger of becoming 'coercion' and urged the college to rethink its 'flawed and discriminatory policy'.

A Hartpury University and Hartpury College spokesperson said: "In order to benefit from the most effective protection against COVID-19, we require eligible students who wish to live in our campus residential accommodation to have the COVID-19 vaccinations, when these are made available to their age category.

"Students who are not intending to engage with the vaccination programme will still be able to attend all of their in-person teaching on campus, but will not be able to reside in Hartpury onsite accommodation (unless they are exempt due to medical reasons)."

The Higher education establishment, which specialises in veterinary and agricultural training, says it has taken the decision "to protect our student, staff and wider communities".

The statement added: "The Students' Union are in full support of our vaccination requirements for students who wish to live on campus. Feedback on our stance from parents and students, and from a record numbers of applicants, has been overwhelmingly positive."

But Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, NUS's Vice President (Higher Education) said: "This is a nuanced issue - of course it is important that students are able to get vaccinated, and we should be encouraging those who are eligible to do so. But this shouldn't be done in a punitive way; rather, students should be equipped with the information, support and resources to be vaccinated on campus."

She added: "It must also be considerate of students who are immunocompromised and those who haven't yet been able to access the vaccine and should not exclude them from campus.

"Students who are able to get jabbed who haven't yet been vaccinated should be supported in accessing the vaccine by their university, and those who aren't able to for medical reasons should be able to engage in in-person activities without feeling ostracised."

A recent statement from the Department for Education said: "The Government currently has no plans to require the use of the NHS Covid Pass for access to learning; however, universities and further education colleges are encouraged to promote the offer of the vaccine and should continue to conduct risk assessments for their particular circumstances."

Vice-principal Claire Whitworth wrote in a letter: "This also applies to students who wish to join/continue with Hartpury's sports activities outside of timetabled academic sessions, and those who wish to use Hartpury's livery."

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