Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on college, university and purpose built student accommodation

Guidance on safe re-opening during the coronavirus pandemic for college, university and purpose built student accommodation (PBSA).

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on college, university and purpose built student accommodation


This guidance is for university and college halls of residence and Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA), hereafter ‘providers’. It comes into effect on 22 July 2020 and will be updated and renewed as circumstances change. It sets out the current advice and guidance for the safe restart of university and college halls of residence and PBSA, in helping to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

It is one of a set of Scottish Government sectoral guidance on Safer Workplaces which are applicable as we progress through the phases described in  Coronavirus (COVID-19): 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 movement between phases with a commitment to review and report every three weeks. 

Updated guidance on student accommodation - travel was published on the Student Information Scotland website, which applies from 29 June 2020.

In setting out this guidance, we recognise that during lockdown students unable to travel home have been supported to remain safe in university and college halls of residence and PBSA, using current public health advice and risk assessments undertaken by providers. What the phases mean in terms of the wider opening of university and college halls of residence and PBSA and the public health and safety measures that need to be considered, are outlined in more detail further in this document.

We have worked in partnership with providers, trade unions and student associations to ensure that this guidance offers clear expectations and practical approaches to a safe, phased full reopening of accommodation.

This guidance is not legal advice and accommodation providers should carefully consider how they intend to comply with their legal duties and may wish to seek their own advice to ensure compliance will all legal requirements.

Accommodation is provided in distinct and differing ways, with a range of services, with differing communities that they serve, including rural and island locations. This is reflected in the diversity of provision. It will therefore be for each provider to work with staff and students and their representatives, including trade unions, and student associations, to determine specific actions to apply this guidance in their circumstances. Policy and action will be guided by public health advice and a measured approach to managing risk through local agreement of appropriate measures.

This guidance should be read in conjunction with the safer workplaces sectoral guidance for colleges and for universities. This is particularly important, given that student accommodation, whether located on or off campus, may utilise services that are not solely associated with student accommodation and are provided university and college wide.

COVID-19 policy and guidance is subject to change and providers should check online for the latest guidance, including those referred to within this guidance.

Page last updated: 5 August 2020

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