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Survey: 50% of Students Attend Colleges With Vaccine Mandate

November 17, 2021

Almost three-quarters (74 percent) of college and university students have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and about half of all students attend colleges with a COVID-19 vaccination mandate, according to a new national survey conducted by researchers at Harvard, Northeastern, Northwestern and Rutgers Universities as part of the COVID States Project: A 50-State COVID-19 Survey.

Students attending colleges in states with Democratic governors, those who attend private institutions and those who attend medium-size to larger institutions were more likely to report having vaccine mandates at their universities.

Mask mandates appeared to be more common than vaccine mandates on college campuses: 67 percent of students at public universities, and 70 percent of students at private universities, said there was a mask mandate for in-person classes at their institution.

The survey found that only about half of students surveyed were able to accurately describe their own university’s COVID-19 vaccination policies.

“Still, school administrations that had mandated mask-wearing and vaccines for students, staff, and faculty had a higher student approval rating than universities without such policies,” a report on the survey states. “This could signify student concern about transmissibility of COVID-19 on campus.”

More than half of the students surveyed approved of their colleges’ COVID-19 vaccination policies, including 54 percent of students at public universities and 60 percent at private universities.

The survey found that Republican college students and unvaccinated college students were less likely to approve of their institution’s handling of COVID-19 vaccination policies. Hispanic students and white students were also less likely to approve than Asian students and Black students. Researchers found no differences across genders.

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Elizabeth Redden

Elizabeth Redden, Senior Reporter, covers general higher education topics, religion and higher education, and international higher education for Inside Higher Ed. She has more than a decade of experience as an education journalist. She holds an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing from Columbia University.

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