Commenting on universities’ preparations for the new semester starting in January 2022, Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland, said:
“Universities have been working at level zero since September, which is a whole level more cautious than required of other sectors. In response to omicron, we’ve stepped up that level of caution again in the last week, cancelling countless Christmas events and are prepared to scale back university social events in the new year in the interests of protecting in-person access to education. Students have a very high vaccination rate and universities have offered help, through vaccine pop-up sites, to accelerate the booster programme for students and wider society.
“Omicron is clearly a very fast-moving situation and we’re in daily touch with the Scottish Government. This will continue over the Christmas break, as needed. However, as it stands, we believe that it is in learners’ interests for universities to continue to offer a safe blend of in-person and digital provision. We think continued access to in-person education, in university as with schools, has to be one of the stand-out priorities for protection as the Scottish Government considers further restrictions. Students are facing their third academic year of disrupted study. We see the impact of this on their educational resilience and mental health and need for this to be taken very seriously as one of the four harms.”