Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on college, university and purpose built student accommodation

Guidance on safe re-opening during the coronavirus pandemic for college, university and purpose built student accommodation (PBSA).

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on college, university and purpose built student accommodation
Key principles

Key principles

In applying Scottish Government direction on when restrictions can be changed, providers will consider a range of evidence on the progress of the pandemic in Scotland using the principles set out in Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making and the commitment to fair work, which was set in the context of the current crisis in a joint statement with the STUC.

The primary concern will be the health and wellbeing of students, staff, visitors, contractors and the wider community in which the accommodation is located. This will also require the cooperation and support of all student residents in adhering to public health guidance and advice. Providers should seek to provide, with the support of student associations, clear information to students on the part they can play in ensuring the health and wellbeing of all residents and staff.

In implementing this guidance providers should consider the following:

  • while accommodation is provided in distinct and differing ways, with a range of services, and practical considerations, there is common focus on providing a good student experience, meeting student needs, and keeping students and staff safe
  • the accommodation setting is an important factor in student life; it is their home for the academic year. It’s recognised that overly restrictive settings can have a negative impact on student mental health and wellbeing. Keeping students and staff safe should be accompanied by providing as far as possible an environment that encourages a positive student experience
  • students and staff may have been affected by the pandemic in a number of ways (eg. through bereavement or experiencing anxiety related to the pandemic), and providers will reflect this in ongoing support for and the review of mental health and wellbeing provision
  • providers will engage with staff and students and their representatives, including trade unions, and student associations, to ensure a safe resumption of facilities
  • providers will take an equality, human rights and risk based approach to protect the health and safety of staff and students. Trade unions and staff, students and student associations will be fully engaged in this process.

Additionally, in planning for the use of facilities providers will consider and plan around:

  • the most up to date guidance on working from home and other public health measures
  • the capacity of spaces, including social, leisure, common and catering and bar spaces, and how many students and staff can be accommodated as safely as possible
  • the circumstances of staff and students including those with caring responsibilities and those that may be vulnerable, and contingency plans should individuals be shielding or self-isolating
  • consider that staff and students may also be affected by public transport availability and restrictions
  • availability of  PPE, other equipment and/or face coverings appropriate to the activity or location. Additional PPE is not normally required outside of healthcare settings when managing the risk of COVID-19, but providers should regularly check the guidance in relation to the particular activity or location.
  • the organisation of staggered breaks and other flexible working patterns to support physical distancing in accordance with government guidelines and protocols, to minimise the use of shared equipment, hot desks and other facilities to ensure safe usage, supporting accessible services required in increasing the number of individuals on-site and how they can be provided as safely as possible.
  • what measures, in addition to those that were in place during the lockdown phase and earlier phases will need to be in place to accommodate additional numbers (including additional cleaning measures and queue management systems where appropriate), and for supporting services required and how they can be provided as safely as possible

First published: 31 Jul 2020 Last updated: 5 Aug 2020 -