Staff, students at Vic Uni's halls must be vaccinated

Source: 1News

Students and staff living and working in university-operated student accommodation at the Victoria University of Wellington must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 from next year.

Wellington, New Zealand - February 25, 2013: Victoria University of Wellington on February 25, 2013. Victoria has been ranked 225th in the World's Top 500 universities by the QS World University Ranking(2010).

Students must provide evidence they have been fully vaccinated before they are able to move into a room in the halls of residence, which opens in February 2022, the university said in a press release.

Staff working in the halls will be required to provide evidence of full vaccination by January 10, 2022.

Offers of employment to prospective new residential assistants will include a requirement that they provide evidence they are fully vaccinated as a condition of their new employment.

Arrangements for students who unable to receive the vaccine on medical groups will be discussed on a case-by-case basis.

The decision was announced following a detailed risk assessment, including reviewing the University’s obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act and the pastoral care code of practice, Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford said.

Consultation with staff and student representative groups, and the Tertiary Education Union, was carried out prior to the Friday announcement.

"The health and safety of our students and staff is a priority for the university. Our halls of residence provide a 24/7 living environment where students are in close proximity to each other and also with members of university staff who work, and in some cases, live in the halls," Guilford said.

"We already have a wide range of measures in place to reduce the risk of exposure to and spread of Covid-19 but our risk assessment has shown the higher level of protection provided by vaccination is required given that the Delta variant is now spreading within New Zealand.

"We are satisfied that given the living environment in our halls of residence, mandatory vaccination for those residing and working there is the right response to the existence of Covid-19 in the community.”

The university is currently considering requirements for others who work in its halls of residence, such as contractors and external providers of maintenance and other services.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the University of Auckland told 1News that it is currently in talks with staff over a proposed vaccine policy. Further engagement is planned, including with students, and “we anticipate being able to finalise the policy in the next two weeks”.

The University of Waikato has not yet made a decision on a vaccine mandate for staff and students, with a spokesperson saying "further consultation" will be required.

A University of Otago spokesperson said in a statement that it would follow the relevant Ministry of Education guidelines and advice, but added, “We understand these guidelines are still in the process of being worked out by the relevant agencies, and we will make our decisions for 2022 when we have them”. 

The University of Canterbury told 1News its halls are independently operated, thus any decisions on vaccines will be made individually.