Universities Scotland respond to Ministerial Statement on Supporting Students to Return Home Safely at the End of Term

Responding to the Ministerial Statement on Supporting Students to Return Home Safely at the End of Term from the Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Richard Lochhead MSP and after coordination between the four governments of the United Kingdom, Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland said:

“Student welfare has guided our decision making throughout the pandemic and that will continue. We agree that it’s important that students living away from their families have the chance to reconnect at Christmas and this needs to be carefully managed to reduce risk. We welcome the measures announced by the Scottish Government, especially developments which have made asymptomatic testing an option for the student community ahead of the winter break. This will help students to make judgements based on their personal and family circumstances. Urgent work now begins to get the testing strategy in place in the next few weeks.

“The introduction of testing, though welcome, is just one component part of the careful management of student migration. It is not a fix-all and universities will continue to stress the importance of continued high levels of adherence to FACTS. We will continue to work with students’ associations to reinforce messages about responsible behaviour and looking out for each other’s welfare – challenges that the vast majority of the student population have stepped up to magnificently.

“The mobile student population, those who intend to change households for the winter break, are one subset of total numbers. Scotland has high numbers of commuter students, who are already home. Significant numbers of students are expected to stay in their university accommodation for a variety of reasons, including many international students and some students for whom university is their home. Universities are putting in extra efforts to ensure that students remaining on campus over Christmas and New Year are looked after.

“We welcome the Minister’s affirmation of the importance of students sustaining their studies and look forward to more detailed planning for their safe return in the New Year.”