Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for universities

Published: 31 Jul 2020
Last updated: 5 Aug 2020 - see all updates

Guidance for universities in helping to minimise the risk of transmission of coronavirus.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for universities


This guidance is for the university sector in Scotland. It comes into effect immediately – 29 June 2020. It will be updated and renewed as circumstances change. It sets out both our current advice and guidance for universities in helping to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

This document is provided as guidance only and does not amount to legal advice. Individual universities may wish to seek their own advice to ensure compliance with all legal requirements.  

It is one of a set of Scottish Government sectoral guidance on Safer Workplaces about how to work safely in different types of workplaces should it not be possible to work from home. These guidance are applicable as we progress through the phases described in Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making – Scotland’s route map through and out of the crisis (21 May 2020), and any subsequent updates. The route map provides an indication of the order in which the Scottish Government will carefully and gradually seek to lift restrictions across Scottish society. It states the criteria used to decide in movement between phases with a commitment to review and report every three weeks. It also states that it might be possible to lift some measures more quickly while some may take longer than envisaged. 

We have worked with universities, trade unions and student representatives to ensure that this guidance offers clear expectations and practical approaches to a safe, phased full reopening of universities.

Each university is an autonomous body and each has a distinct and diverse mix of teaching, research and related work as well as a range of services and commercial operations. Each institution’s buildings and operations reflect these distinct mixes. It will therefore be for each institution to work with its trade unions, staff and students to determine specific actions to apply this guidance in their own particular circumstances. Policy and action will be guided by public health advice and a measured approach to managing risk through local consultation on appropriate measures. 

In setting out this guidance we recognise during lockdown universities moved to delivering teaching and assessment online, allowing the vast majority of students and staff to ‘stay at home’ and that essential COVID-related work on campus commenced; contributing to testing capacity, research and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) production. Students unable to travel home have been supported to remain safe in university residences and essential public health services, emergency veterinary care and essential national infrastructure and supercomputers have been maintained safely and securely.

Page last updated: 5 August 2020



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