Selwyn College to mandate vaccinations

After more than two years of uncertainty, a decision on the future of Anglican ownership of...
Dunedin's oldest residential college will require residents to be vaccinated as of next year.

But it is unclear if other University of Otago halls will follow suit.

Offers of places for 2022 will go out to prospective residents of the privately owned Selwyn College today.

College board chairwoman Anne Stevens said included in the residential contract would be a clause requiring residents to be vaccinated, unless they had an exemption on medical or religious grounds.

Over the past two years, residents had missed out on a lot of normal first-year university experiences due to Covid-19, she said.

The board saw vaccination as a way of reducing the risk of that, and of the virus spreading among residents who would be living in close quarters.

She was unaware of any other residential halls which had made the same decision, and said the university-owned halls had different issues to take into consideration.

As for other halls of residence in the city, it was unclear if there would be any requirements.

University acting vice-chancellor Prof Helen Nicholson said the university would follow Ministry of Education guidelines.

‘‘In the past few days, the Prime Minister has signalled some quite significant changes are on the way in terms of how the country responds to the Covid situation, including vaccination certificates and the fact that they will be required at some large gatherings over the summer.

‘‘However, we have no information yet on what the Government requirements and guidelines will be in respect of tertiary education institutions (of which the university-owned residential colleges are legally a part).’’

She understood those guidelines were being worked on by relevant agencies, and the university would make decisions for 2022 when they were finalised.

Affiliated colleges were independent of the university, and so had the freedom to develop their own requirements, she said.

‘‘That is what Selwyn College has done, and we respect the right of their board to have made the decision they have made.’’

Otago Polytechnic chief executive Dr Megan Gibbons said the polytechnic was not limiting access to its campus based on vaccination status, and it was not asking staff or learners to declare their vaccination status.

However, some staff and learners in its health programmes were required to disclose their vaccination status as part of their fieldwork or placement requirements

‘‘We also recommend that all students applying for entry to a health programme be vaccinated against Covid-19.’’

Dr Gibbons said the polytechnic was supporting staff to get vaccinated by allowing them to get vaccinated within working hours, without requiring them to take time off.

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