1 February 2022

ANU considers possible vaccine mandate for staff and students

| Lottie Twyford
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Australian National University.

The ANU is considering imposing a vaccine mandate for staff and students at the university attending on-campus classes. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The Australian National University is considering imposing a vaccine mandate on staff and students who wish to attend classes on campus this semester, but it’s seeking community views on vaccination ahead of making any decision.

A spokesperson for the university said while some members of the community are already required to be vaccinated – if they work with vulnerable communities, for example – there is no broader requirement for everyone in the community to be vaccinated and boosted when eligible.

“We are currently seeking our community’s views on vaccination as we consider the potential introduction of a requirement for everyone in the ANU community to be fully vaccinated – except for people with medical exemptions,” the spokesperson said.

National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) ACT Division Secretary Dr Lachlan Clohesy said while the union supports vaccination, “questions remain over valid exemptions to any mandate, and any consequences for unvaccinated staff”.

Dr Clohesy said any measures which affect workplace health and safety should be the subject of rigorous consultation between the ANU and its employees, including the NTEU as the union for ANU staff.

“The ANU’s survey seeks to gauge staff opinion on a vaccine mandate, but more rigorous consultation will be required for this or any other proposed WHS measure before any implementation,” he said.

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Across town, the University of Canberra will not instate a campus-wide vaccine mandate.

Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Geoff Crisp noted the university has taken a “proportionate and risk-based approach to looking at how we can keep staff, students and the community safe”.

Measures such as mask mandates, density limits and social distancing will all be in place, and additional restrictions could be brought in in line with government advice to do so, Professor Crisp said.

He added that vaccines and boosters are strongly encouraged for all staff and students. There are some locations where full vaccination is required, such as student accommodation or medical facilities.

Other students – such as those undertaking health or teaching – may be covered by government vaccine mandates.

While the ACT has nation-leading vaccination rates – 98.6 per cent of the adult population are fully-vaccinated, and over 40 per cent of the population has received a booster dose – many university students travel from interstate and overseas.

It is a Federal Government requirement that international travellers who arrive in Australia be fully vaccinated or provide proof that they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

Both the ANU and UC have begun welcoming the first few groups of international students back to Canberra after two years of disruptions.

International students contribute around $1 billion each year to the ACT economy and ANU, in particular, has suffered extensive losses due to the disruptions to the program.

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The ANU is planning a cautious return to on-campus learning when the semester begins next month.

“Classes will be taking place on campus, however, virtual options will be available when they’re needed, including when students and teachers find themselves needing to isolate,” ANU Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt wrote in a blog post earlier this month.

The ACT Government is working with both the ANU and UC to establish safe working conditions for students and staff.

UC students returned to campus today (31 January) for O-Week, while staff will begin returning to work the following week – although this will be flexible.

The university is considering multiple scenarios, risk assessments, and measures to facilitate a return to campus that should keep our campus community as safe as possible,” a spokesperson said.

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Mods – my comments can all be backed by medical journal articles. I am not here to stir up trouble, but provide an opinion on a contentious subject. It’s a mystery why many are uninformed on mRNA vaccines.
All the best

Good idea. If someone thinks that anti-vaxxer fantasies found on google are science, and are more reliable than peer reviewed science and medicine, by people who have actually studied and worked in the field, they don’t seem a fit for higher education.

Yeah see here is the bit as a logically thinking Engineer I don’t get – the vaccines have been proven medically to be useless in stopping spreading the disease, and have elevated risk of causing cardiovascular damage.
So why would you mandate ( apart from being scared witless by lawyers perhaps ) something that is of no real use and gas a 99.9+% survival rate?
None of the reasons hold water medically speaking.

Sorry for being so cross. It is all very frustrating and the solutions are not straightforward. We can only do what we can. Two years of this virus is far too much.

I take it that reading comprehension is an option given that the opening paragraph clearly states “The Australian National University is considering imposing a vaccine mandate on staff and students who wish to attend classes on campus this semester, but it’s seeking community views on vaccination ahead of making any decision” including gauging staff opinion. A decision is pending. Not made. Looking at the options. The conditions they are proposing are to minimise potential hospital admissions. Nothing really stops the virus. They understand that. If they proceed with the mandate and you you feel the mandate is authoritarian do not attend. From some of the community comments the ANU is not missing anything. If you feel annoyed target those political idiots that thought letting the virus cut loose was a great idea because business pressure groups thought it was a great idea. Organisations are trying to fix the Morrison/ Perrottet screw up. They should not have to do this. YOUR political masters whom you have voted for have brought this on you. What are you going to do about it? Eh? Thought not.

Suits me except for the no smiling and hugging bit, I reckon there will be a lot of that. My daughter graduates on 8 February after four loooooong years and now a double degree for her. Death itself could be sitting beside me (as long as it is wearing the appropriate gown) and I will still attend.

Mandatory vaccines, masks and triple booster shots for everyone. No touching, no hugging, no hand-holding, no singing and no smiling. And if anyone sneezes, we go into lockdown.

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