Listen to the article now
COVID-19 has increased the use of technology and blended learning, however, there is still a clear acknowledgment from many institutions that learning is still fundamentally a social activity. It is undeniable that some learning experiences require in-person engagement. As a result, universities have a responsibility to ensure that the health and safety of both students and staff are prioritized on campus and that precautionary measures are taken.
If you have been accepted to university or are planning to study in 2022, it may be worthwhile to know that several universities under USAF (Universities South Africa), from the 26 public institutions have approved mandatory vaccine policies requiring that students and staff be vaccinated in the year 2022.
Although the vaccination policy does not force anyone to vaccinate, it is aimed at restricting access to campus to vaccinated persons. As we all know the pandemic resulted in many people being placed in quarantine, being incapacitated due to COVID-19 complications and death. For many institutions, remote working and studying is not necessarily the most viable solution for the long term because it may decrease the holistic experience of universities, particularly residential universities.
We encourage everyone intending to go to university next year to make the responsible decision to vaccinate and not be deprived of a holistic university experience and maintain the standard of a good quality graduate.
Currently, the following Universities have adopted the mandatory vaccination policy:
University of the Free State
The UFS Council approved the vaccination policy to regulate the access of staff, students, contract workers to the university premises. The policy will be implemented from 14 February 2022. Students who are not vaccinated by 14 February 2022 will not be prevented from registering but will not be allowed access to the campus or facilities. Vaccinated persons will be required to upload their vaccination certificates on an electronic platform to obtain access to campus.
Staff and students of Rhodes University will have to provide proof of vaccination to access campus and this policy will come into effect in January 2022.
According to the university “The vaccination requirement also applies as a condition for registration for all students, as well as for staff working on campus, service providers and visitors. A recommendation for an exemption application process and an alternative health status process for those who cannot take the vaccine on medical or other legitimate and justifiable grounds, was also approved.” Once the exemption application is approved, then it may be required that students and staff provide a negative Covid-19 test weekly at the cost of the individual.
University of Cape Town
The University of Cape Town Council approved mandatory vaccination and requires that staff and students (as a prerequisite for registration) provide their vaccination against COVID-19. The policy is expected to come into full effect from the 1st of January 2022.
University of the Western Cape
An interim COVID-19 policy was approved for 2022 by the council of The University of Western Cape. It entails the Soft and Hard mandate. The Soft mandate is where all staff and students will have to be vaccinated to enter campus and attend events. Students who are not vaccinated will be allowed to register for their relevant qualifications but will not be permitted to access campus or attend university events. The Hard Mandate is where students have to vaccinate to register at the university, which includes students from the Faculty of Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy among others. Therefore, the Soft Mandate will not apply to these students as they are required to vaccinate to register.
University of the Witwatersrand
The council of the Witwatersrand approved the vaccination policy which will come into effect on the 1st of January 2022 and will be reviewed regularly. In terms of timeline, staff and students will have from 1 January 2022 to 1 March 2022 to either vaccinate or apply for reasonable accommodation.
The University can refuse access to campus to any person who has not been vaccinated and/or who has not been reasonably accommodated. Vaccinated members of the University will provide proof of their vaccination status, which will be linked to their staff or student profile to enable seamless access to the University’s precincts.
University of Johannesburg
Students at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) will need vaccination certificates to gain entrance into the institution from January 2022, and those unvaccinated will not be provided with accommodation at any university-owned residence. The vaccination policy also applies to staff, ad-hoc contract workers, postdoctoral research fellows who will also need to provide the university with vaccination proof before gaining access to the university.