Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): universities, colleges and student accommodation providers

Published: 11 Sep 2020
Last updated: 24 Sep 2020 - see all updates

Guidance for higher and further education institutions and student accommodation providers to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

Contents
Coronavirus (COVID-19): universities, colleges and student accommodation providers
University, college and accommodation provider principles

University, college and accommodation provider principles

University principles

Universities in Scotland are committed to a set of principles which have been developed UK-wide and will be applied for the phases following emergence from lockdown.

These are:

  • the health, safety and wellbeing of students, staff, visitors, contractors and the wider community will be the priority in decisions relating to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in universities
  • universities will make appropriate changes to university layout and infrastructure in accordance – at minimum – with public health advice, including guidelines on physical distancing
  • universities will review their teaching, learning and assessment to ensure that there is the required flexibility in place to deliver a high-quality experience and support students to achieve their learning outcomes in a safe manner
  • universities will regularly review the welfare and mental health needs of students and staff, and take steps to ensure preventative measures and appropriate support are in place and well communicated as restrictions are eased
  • following appropriate risk assessment, universities will introduce measures to enable research to be conducted in a managed and responsible manner, following guidance specifically designed to protect researchers and support staff in laboratories and other research facilities and spaces
  • universities will engage with staff and students, including consultation with recognised trade unions and student unions, to ensure the transition from lockdown both protects the wellbeing of staff and students and enables the safe resumption of university activities
  • as well as the NHS, universities will work with other civic or local partners wherever appropriate including councils and community groups

These principles are complemented by UK-wide principles jointly agreed between the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) and the UK sector trade unions which includes Scottish universities and Scottish unions. This covers more detail on:

  • use of government guidance for Safer Workplaces
  • Health and safety legislation
  • consultation with campus trade unions
  • risk assessment
  • communication
  • impact on staff

Both sets of principles complement, but do not supersede, the established mechanisms in place in universities through health and safety committees to consult campus trade unions on matters relating to health, safety and wellbeing in the workplace.

College principles

In implementing this guidance, colleges should consider the following:

  • the health, safety and wellbeing of students, staff, visitors, contractors and the wider community will be the priority in decisions relating to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in colleges
  • colleges will review their teaching, learning and assessment to ensure that there is the required flexibility in place to deliver a high quality experience which allows learning to take place safely
  • colleges will regularly review the welfare and mental health needs of students and staff and take steps to ensure preventative measures and appropriate support is in place and are well communicated as restrictions are eased
  • colleges will recognise that students and staff may have been affected by the pandemic in a number of ways (e.g. through bereavement or experiencing anxiety related to the pandemic)
  • following appropriate risk assessments, colleges will introduce measures specifically designed to protect staff and students in specialised training facilities, such as practical workshops and hairdressing and beauty salons and other specialised vocational training facilities and spaces
  • colleges will engage with staff and students, including trade unions and student associations to ensure a safe resumption of college activities
  • colleges will regularly review their hygiene, waste disposal and cleaning protocols in all college spaces, and adapt these in response to changing public health advice and risk levels, to ensure that students, staff and visitors can have confidence in their safety
  • colleges will take an equality, human rights and risk-based approach to protect health and safety of staff and students. Trade unions, student associations and staff will be fully engaged in this process

Colleges will follow a risk-based approach to protect the health and safety of staff and students. Staff and students will be fully engaged in that process, through trade union and student association representatives.

Risk assessments will underpin general protocols describing how people can access and use a college building. These will address questions regarding safely entering the building, moving around within it and using facilities such as offices, networked printers, canteens, toilets, etc. These will apply to everyone on the site and be drawn up by college management in consultation with relevant interested parties.

Accommodation provider principles

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

First published: 11 Sep 2020 Last updated: 24 Sep 2020 -