Higher education against Covid access passes on campus
Dutch universities, colleges, vocational schools, and student organizations are all against imposing coronavirus access passes on students. They call it fundamentally and practically impossible, NRC reports.
If the coronavirus access pass is imposed on students, they'll only be able to go to the lecture hall, workgroups, or practical lessons if they've been vaccinated against Covid-19, tested negative for it, or recently recovered from the coronavirus. The Cabinet is currently working on legal substantiation for that. According to the newspaper, part of that is scrapping the need for educational institutions and unions' input on such far-reaching decisions.
The Ministry of Education told NRC that the Cabinet will only impose the access passes in the "most extreme case." "To be able to act quickly if it is necessary due to epidemiological circumstances, a legal process is being prepared. When necessary, this becomes mandatory for every institution, which makes it illogical to give participation councils a role." According to the Ministry, the access pass is better than reintroducing social distancing. "Then most of the education would have to take place online again. With an access pass, all physical education can continue. And the maximum group size can be scrapped."
But the association of Dutch universities VSNU is against the idea. "In principle, it is not possible that you deny students access to education based on their vaccination status," a spokesperson said to NRC. Checking access passes is also unfeasible in practical terms. "We cannot check 340,000 students every day. In addition, you then have to give unvaccinated or untested students separate full education, and that is not possible. For this, lecturers who are already overworked would have to prepare two types of lectures."
The Association of Universities of Applied Sciences told the newspaper that checking access passes would be similar to doing so at a large festival, but every single day. "You'll have to ask teachers to scan for lectures, but we don't want that. They are there to teach, not to deny students entry."
Student organizations ISO and LSVb said the Cabinet is sidelining them by scrapping participation councils' input on these decisions. "Soon, the decision on something so drastic will lie with a few people in The Hague," Lisanne Roos of ISO said. "Access passes limit accessibility. Point."
Andan Tekin, chairman of the MBO Raad, pointed out that education is "a fundamental right for everyone." "Should the caretaker Cabinet introduce those access passes, then it must be clearly shown that there is no other option."