A university is offering cash prizes to students who can prove they have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in an effort to drive take-up of the jabs.All students at Sussex University are being entered into a draw, with 10 winners receiving £5,000 if they can prove they are double-jabbed or exempt.Professor Adam Tickell, the university's vice-chancellor, denied the move amounted to "bribing" students to get vaccinated.The prize draw will take place at the end of November to allow students time toget vaccinated.
"We're going to automatically enter every student in, and unless they have said they want to opt out, after we've given them the opportunity to have vaccines - this will be about 12 weeks after the announcement - we'll just randomly choose 10 names," Prof Tickell told BBC Radio 4's Today."If they can prove they've been double vaccinated, or indeed if they are medically exempt, we'll make them the award."
He added: "We're not bribing them. What we're doing is we're just giving an incentive."
Prof Tickell said the university hoped to give students an experience "as close as possible to normal" when they return after the summer, with teaching taking place in person rather than online.He said: "We know that many students will have already had their vaccines or are planning to. If we can boost those numbers even slightly through a simple intervention like this, then of course we are going to do so."Whilst these are significant prizes for our students, the cost to the university is small compared with the human, social and financial cost if students were to experience the kind of disruption we faced last year."Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said: "Vaccines are the surest way to put Covid behind us and for students to reclaim the freedoms that enrich university life, and I encourage all eligible students to take up the offer of both vaccine doses."The department is encouraging universities to look at creative ways to boost uptake and to discuss the possibility of pop-up centres with local health partners - making it quick and easy for students to grab a jab."