Coronavirus (COVID-19): universities, colleges and community learning and development providers

Guiding principles to manage COVID-19 and to remain vigilant in colleges, community learning and development (CLD) settings and universities.

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This COVID-19 guidance applies to activities that are connected with teaching and learning in universities, colleges and CLD settings, and extends from our updated strategic framework  published on 22 February 2022.

These principles are intended to support planning approaches and to enable in-person teaching and learning, where this is the desired and most appropriate approach. We will also work with institutions and organisations in order to address the impacts of the accumulated wider harms and lost learning on students and learners.

These principles are non-statutory, however they set out guiding principles and measures that can be implemented to help manage the risks arising from COVID-19 and take account of relevant advice from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advisory Sub-Group on Universities and Colleges. They have been developed following consultation with sector stakeholders, including through the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advanced Learning Recovery Group, chaired by the Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training.

The guidance should be read in conjunction with the coronavirus in Scotland guidance and guidance on staying safe and protecting others and the safer businesses and workplaces guidance.

Strategic framework

The updated strategic framework sets out actions to respond to COVID-19 and its associated harms, and our approach to managing it effectively but also sustainably for as long as necessary.

It marks a shift in the strategic intent from a focus on suppressing COVID-19 to managing the virus effectively in terms of both transmission and impact. This will require us to build a society able to balance various risks to reduce the harm from COVID-19, and it will involve an ongoing ask of the public and organisations to take responsibility for enhancing their safety. Adopting sensible behaviours and making basic, appropriate adaptations will help us to do this.

Many businesses and other organisations recognise the positive steps taken during the pandemic and the need for these steps to have greater permanency in its aftermath. This includes measures such as a mix of home and office (‘hybrid’) and flexible working where feasible and appropriate, enhanced sanitisation and hygiene, and improved ventilation within the workplace.

Future outbreaks or resurgences of the virus are expected which  may occur at an institutional, local or national level. To inform the response to future outbreaks, including a potentially dangerous variant of COVID-19, the Scottish Government with Public Health Scotland (PHS), Local Government and other partners, are developing the COVID-19 Outbreak Management Plan, which will set out the process and methods for responding to future outbreaks. The aim is to publish this Plan in spring 2022.

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