President’s News 29 September 2021

This week, the University of Melbourne has announced that any students wanting to be on campus after November 5 must be fully vaccinated.

We know that COVID-19 vaccines are safe, they are effective and they are our way back to life and indeed campus in 2022. We strongly support vaccinations, and encourage all students to book their appointment now, if they haven’t already done so.

Vaccination is going to be required to participate in a range of activities outside of the University – going to the pub, to a café and to a major event. With this in mind, we expect that most students who are able to get a vaccine will receive one anyway.

We have had 2 long years of being off campus – whether in lockdown or out – and UMSU is keen to return to campus safely and in full force next year.

Already, we are having lots of enquiries from students as to what this means. Unfortunately, at this stage we do not have the answers to all of your questions.

Primarily, UMSU is concerned about the lack of consultation from the University with student representatives as well as the National Tertiary Education Union – who represent our staff.

It is more worrying that some very basic questions are still unanswered by the University. Indeed, the University still does not have an implementation plan. This is a significant announcement, and while UMSU supports the intention behind it, the University has not provided a plan on how they will enforce this, and what impact it will have on students. It is confusing why this was not completed before such a major announcement.

We are also concerned about offshore students who have received a vaccine in a different country that is not TGA approved, and is not in the Medicare Immunisation Register. Will these students be allowed to come on to campus and what is the University’s plan to manage this? Again, there is no answer to this important question.

We also are hoping the University brings in other risk mitigation strategies. Rapid anti-gen testing, air purifiers in classrooms, egress plans and better ventilation. Vaccination is not a silver bullet on its own – the University needs to throw everything into the mix next year to ensure campus is safe for staff and students.

We call on the University to work with UMSU and the GSA as well as the NTEU to give clear implementation plans. While there has been no consultation up to this point, it is not too late to start.

To learn more, you can listen to UMSU President Jack Buksh’s interview with the ABC below. If you’re experiencing issues or hardship related to COVID, please check out our COVID resources.