The Universities of Johannesburg, Wits, Free State and the Western Cape have approved mandatory vaccinations in an attempt to curb the spread of Covid-19. This means that all staff and students must be vaccinated in order for them to access the respective university campuses.
This decision has seen criticism arise from students and student unions.
In a statement the South African Union of Students (SAUS) has encouraged students to get vaccinated as they believe that it will help to protect student communities, families and societies as the country battles against the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the Union says that they do not support any mandatory vaccination policy and that they will be working with SRCs of institutions around South Africa to fight "the senseless and unconstitutionally draconian attempts to exclude and restrict students from accessing their campuses".
SAUS has called on Parliament’s portfolio committee on higher education to intervene “in this matter before it gets ugly”.
Head of Operations at Universities South Africa, Linda Meyer says that universities have the legal right to only allow those who are vaccinated on their premises.
She says that universities have made provision for students through online education but that there are certain faculties such as the engineering and medical faculties that require students to be on campus, which will mean that they need to be vaccinated.
She says the mandatory vaccination policy has been put in place to ensure that everybody on campus is safe.
There are still many universities who have not approved this policy and Meyer says that the managements at these institutions may still be consulting all their stakeholders on whether or not they will introduce this policy.
"We do anticipate that more universities will come on online as the consultation process progresses, but obviously first and foremost we need to encourage everybody to get vaccinated," said Meyer.
She says that universities will do all that they can to protect their students and staff members, especially those living with comorbidities.
It's not an arbitrary decision that has been made by universities to try and exclude anybody from campuses, but at the end of the day... we need to start looking at the greater good of the collective and to ensure that everybody is safe.
Students can visit the USAF website to see which universities have mandatory access vaccinations as a requirement.