Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advanced Learning Recovery Group minutes - 20 October 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 20 October 2021.

Items and actions


The chair (Jamie Hepburn - Minister for HE, FE, Youth Employment and Training) welcomed all to the meeting.

All agreed the minutes for the previous meeting (05 October 2021) are accurate.


  • minutes to be published on the SG website

Presentation: public health context update: Eileen Scott - education recovery and COVID-19 vaccination surveillance, Public Health Scotland

The presentation provided a high level summary of the COVID-19 public health context and the resultant discussion covered the following points:

  • reports of general student and staff satisfaction regarding being back on campus but a reminder that it is important to consider where there may be dissatisfaction
  • concerns raised over the lack of vaccine certification available to students vaccinated with a non-MHRA vaccine, and the implications this will have for student experience and integration
  • the potential for vaccine waning will be monitored – possible review on whether the booster programme will include more than just the most clinically vulnerable population
  • while vaccine uptake in student populations is quite high, promoting the vaccine program is still a top priority

EAG update: Professor Linda Bauld - Chair of the Expert Advisory Group

Professor Bauld led a presentation on the on-going work of the EAG, with a focus on winter planning and the wider harms of the pandemic on students. 

The discussion covered the following points

  • the EAG plan to meet with university and college representatives to discuss the impacts of the wider harms of the pandemic
  • the EAG will also look at ways to engage with CLD and trade unions
  • the lack of observed outbreaks and current case plateau should not allow for complacency. Communication going forward will be key in continuing to prevent transmission
  • concerns raised about the disadvantages of COVID-19 on students whose courses include Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) elements

Ventilation - SG Short-Life Working Group meeting update – Craig Robertson - advanced learning and science COVID-19 recovery

Craig presented a summary on the meeting held on 19 October 2021 between sector representatives and the Scottish Government’s Ventilation Short Life Working Group. 

The discussion covered the following points:

  • a view from trade unions that the sector should work towards achieving high standards of ventilation
  • a view by trade unions that CO2 monitors should be utilised in institutions and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance on air quality thresholds should be observed
  • a call for the lessons learned about ventilation to be used to inform discussions about the wider health benefits of improved air quality
  • concerns raised on  implementing ventilation measures in CLD contexts given their diverse nature. Concerns surround the cost of implementation, maintaining thermal comfort, and understanding of how to read CO2 monitors
  • some universities have agreed to assess what assistance they can provide for CLD with ventilation

Student accommodation shortage: Matt Crilly - President, NUS Scotland

Matt shared an overview of the current difficulties students are facing in sourcing safe student accommodation and the factors contributing to the shortage. 

The discussion covered the following points: 

  • the SG is aware of this issue and is working on it
  • potential for work to be done alongside local authorities to monitor and help with this challenge
  • the accommodation issue is part of a wider accommodation issue. The SG will be reviewing this in the long-term

AOB and end of the meeting

The chair thanked everyone and brought the meeting to a close. 

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