Principals respond to additional Scottish Government guidance on student households

The Scottish Government has today (Sunday 27 September) issued further guidance relating to the application of the restrictions on household visits, as it applies to students living in university accommodation. The guidance on visits home follows the new restriction, announced by the First Minister last week, that the general public should refrain from indoor visits between households. The rules came into force on Wednesday 23 September and will be reviewed every three weeks. The measures were introduced to curb the rising transmission of the coronavirus.

Today’s additional guidance follows calls for clarification on how this applies to students living in student accommodation and certainty on whether students can make trips between their parental home and student accommodation. When students arrive at university accommodation they form a new household grouping.

Scottish Government developed the guidance with input from Universities Scotland and from the National Union of Students Scotland.

Responding to the additional guidance, Professor Gerry McCormac, Convener of Universities Scotland and Principal of the University of Stirling said:

“With the support of their universities, students need to choose what is right for their own physical and mental health.  Unfortunately the current situation with this pandemic means these choices do need to be balanced within the wider public health context. There is a real benefit, we believe, in staying at university this semester and benefiting from the blend of both digital and in-person learning and the wider range of services and support that is available. The Scottish Government’s additional guidance about households puts the emphasis on staying within existing households and avoiding overnight stays elsewhere for now, but not at the expense of an individual’s wellbeing. It also makes clear that a change of household is possible but offers guidance to limit this to cases where a change then become the person’s main or only residence on a long-term basis.

“It has been a very difficult start to the new academic year for the entire student community, both those returning to university and in particular, those attending for the first time.  It is particularly worrying for the students who have tested positive for COVID-19 and for those who have been asked to isolate to protect other students, staff and the local community. A great deal has been asked of students in recent times so that the transmission of the virus can be limited, but the prevalence of this virus has been increasing for several weeks and while students have been severely affected, the responsibility for this increase does not just lie with them. Nonetheless we must do all we can to curtail the spreads of this deadly disease while ensuring students and staff are fully supported. Universities are providing practical, emotional and financial support to students and every student should feel able to reach out and ask for any support they need – we’re here for you.

“We’re all facing unprecedented challenges whilst trying to protect education as a priority, second only to public health. In institutions, student leaders have been and continue to be a key part of the planning process for managing the virus and there is wide support for the actions taken. Looking ahead, the student voice will be a key part of discussions regarding how to manage the approach to the rest of the academic year.  Actions taken now to reduce the spread of this disease will help ensure we can integrate further with each other and our loved ones as we head towards the Christmas break.”



The additional guidance on Student Accommodation – Visits Home can be found here.