Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advanced Learning Recovery Group - terms of reference - 28 May 2021

Terms of reference for the Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advanced Learning Recovery Group.

Group role and remit

  1. The COVID-19 Advisory Sub-Group on Universities and Colleges, and the Advanced Learning Covid Recovery Group are being convened to support work to ensure a balanced consideration of the four harms, to inform the development of Scottish Government guidance on the operation of colleges, universities and CLD providers for academic year 2021/22. 

  2. This will take full account of public health advice, together with the wider impacts on Scotland’s students and learners, staff, universities, colleges and CLD providers, as we collectively work towards the academic year 2021/22, taking cognisance of any continuing disruption to education and student experience. 

  3. The group’s work will aim to inform guidance that ensures colleges, universities and CLD providers deliver the best possible teaching, learning and research via a safe and appropriate blend of digital and in-person teaching, research and other activities on campus. The group will work within an overall Scottish Government policy intention to enable in-person provision to the extent consistent with the safety of staff and students, and in line with Scotland’s overall response to COVID-19, whilst ensuring the highest quality learning experience possible for students and learners in the circumstances we face.
  4. The group’s work will build on that of the Ministerial Leadership Group, and the Student Hardship and Learner Journey Task Forces. Its work will be mindful of the need for clear communication to students in order to allow them to plan and make choices in as an informed way as circumstances will allow.
  5. The group’s work should also explore the extent to which changes introduced in response to the pandemic may be usefully continued into a ‘new normal’.
  6. It will produce initial advice by the end of June to inform Scottish Government guidance about Covid management for the beginning of the new academic year. 


  1. The Advanced Learning Covid Recovery Group is being convened to fulfil the remit described below. The group will:
  • bring together decision makers and key influencers to ensure the delivery of the work set out in paragraphs 1 to 6 above;
  • provide leadership and advice to ministers in developing their strategic approach, through considering advice from the COVID-19 Advisory Sub-Group on Universities and Colleges;
  • work across organisational and structural boundaries to support the response and recovery efforts;
  • be a forum for frank and open discussion about what is working, and what and where improvement is required.
  1. The Group will be expected to work at pace to drive forward a series of workstreams to address the issues impacting on CLD, colleges and universities in Scotland as a result of the pandemic. Its immediate focus will be to generate system-wide input into developing iterative guidance to be applied in the run-up to and into the next academic year
  2. Given the need to work at speed to produce solutions to the multiple challenges faced, it is expected that much of the work will take place in-between full meetings of the group itself. The work should seek to use existing groups and mechanisms to undertake this work, although it is likely that tightly time-limited and specific ‘task and finish’ groups will also be required


  1. The group is expected to meet bi-weekly (for 60 to 90 minutes) in the first instance. It will be chaired by the Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training. The schedule of meetings will be flexible and subject to change. Minutes of group meetings will be published on the Scottish Government website.


  1. Any sensitive inputs shared with the group for discussion will be marked as such and considered not for further sharing. Where possible, inputs shared with the group for discussion will be published. 


  1. Secretariat support will be provided to the group from the Directorate for Advanced Learning and Science, including arranging all meetings and circulating agenda and papers. 
  2. The Chair will agree the final agenda for each meeting of the group. Members may ask for an item or paper to be included on the agenda. Agendas, supporting papers and minutes of the previous meeting will be circulated to members as soon as is practicably possible. 
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