Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advisory Sub-Group on Universities and Colleges: addendum to advice on the beyond level 0 scenario

Updates made to the advice set out in the paper on preparations for the start of the 2021/22 academic year in a beyond level 0 scenario.

These updates were agreed by sub-group members following discussions at the third meeting of the Covid-19 Advisory Sub-group on Universities and Colleges on 22nd June 2021. 

International students

This applies to paragraph 13 in the section of the paper on ‘Testing, contact tracing and self-isolation’ regarding international students arriving in Scotland:

International students will need to follow the required current guidance for green, amber and red listed countries before departure and  on arrival in Scotland.

For overseas students, arriving in a new country, tailored guidelines for practical and emotional support should be developed by universities and colleges.  These should go hand in hand with communications about the mitigations that are in place and approaches to risk assessment and personal responsibility.

Supporting students from amber list countries who go into quarantine

This applies to paragraph 19 in the section on ‘measures to manage the risk of importation of the virus’ regarding the support that should be provided to students arriving from amber list countries:

Universities and colleges should provide support for international students arriving from amber list countries who stay in university or college accommodation and need to go into quarantine.  Medical attention and food should be provided as well as regular attention to wider wellbeing.

Private accommodation providers should also be encouraged by universities and colleges to offer similar forms and levels of support,

General advice from the sub-group applying to all scenarios

Long covid

The sub-group acknowledged that further work is needed on the data and the definition of long covid. There remains uncertainty about the extent to which long covid may be an issue for young adults. However even if a relatively small percentage of young adults suffer adverse effects of covid infections (both short and longer term) this may be a significant number should this group suffer high overall rates of infection.

Mixing student households

The group noted that mixing will occur for students within new households at the beginning of term or just before the start of term.  This may also include mixing beyond students new households, as happened last year. 

Plans should recognise that on current projected timescales maximum protection among this group of students won’t be in place until early October. This could change if one shot vaccines available.

Because of this additional precautions may be needed at the start of term and for the first few weeks.  This could include hosting a virtual Fresher’s weeks or postponing the start of term and maintaining online learning for those that are not fully vaccinated.

Clarifications on statistics

The sub-group provided clarifications on the statistics quoted in the advice paper and minutes of the Covid-19 Advisory Sub-group on Universities and Colleges meeting on 8th June 2021:

  • Overall, 4% of university students and 21% of college students are under 18 years old. 
  • Latest data relating to 2019/20 academic year, shows there were 32,738[1] 16-17 year olds at Scottish colleges studying either HE or FE. This accounts for around 13.7% of the 239,004 students recorded in 2019/20.
  • Similarly in 2019/20 there were around 32,520 enrolments on undergraduate courses at Scottish HEIs aged 18 or under. This accounts for around 17.0% of the 191,530 undergraduate enrolments at Scottish HEIs.
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