Publication - Advice and guidance

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

Published: 15 Jul 2021
Last updated: 22 Jul 2021 - see all updates

Guidance for operations in the academic year 2021 to 2022.

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

The Test and Protect system of testing, contact tracing and self-isolation


Universities and colleges are strongly recommended to draw on our advice and materials, to communicate with staff and domestic and international students on regular self-testing with details of how it can be accessed.

We expect that institutions will communicate to students (if asymptomatic) that they should test before travelling to their term-time accommodation. This can be accessed through either the universal LFD collect service or the PCR test before travel service.

Universities and Colleges should be proactive in advising any student (ahead of their return to campus) against travelling to or attending campus if symptomatic and in advising the student to seek a PCR test.

Institutions should work with student associations to develop peer-led interventions to promote LFD testing as one way of reducing transmission risks (e.g. as the socially responsible thing to do before a social event, before returning home to see friends and family).

Contact tracing

The wider importance of contact tracing – including use of contact tracing apps – should be built into these interventions.

Student self-isolation

The importance of self-isolation as an intervention to prevent the cycle of increased transmission and as an act of social responsibility should be emphasised by institutions.

Universities and colleges should communicate to students the importance of self-isolation in supressing the virus and that the period of self-isolation (e.g., not attending lectures or socialising) needs to be started immediately following a positive COVID-19 test or where the onset of symptoms is detected.

Institutions are strongly recommended to continue to make lectures and learning materials available online so that those self-isolating can access as much learning as is possible.

Universities and colleges should ensure that there is a well-developed approach to support students who need to self-isolate. This should include support in accommodation, and also wider wellbeing, learning and assessment issues. This is expected to be in line with the institutions’ duty of care and reflect the different forms of accommodation in which the students may be self-isolating.

Universities and colleges should proactively and regularly reach out to students who are self-isolating in private accommodation or in non-university/college managed accommodation to highlight the additional support that might and/or can be provided.

As employers, universities and colleges are expected to support the health and wellbeing of staff and outsourced workers including for staff who are required to self-isolate.

We expect that institutions will have clear outbreak management procedures in place, and that these are clearly communicated and explained to staff and students.

Universities and colleges are expected to provide all the necessary support to international students arriving from amber-list countries enabling them to self-isolate for the required period on arrival. Institutions are expected to proactively and regularly contact international students who are self-isolating in non-institution managed accommodation. Institutions should provide support and advice in line with their duty of care to these students.

Student services are expected to ensure that all students self-isolating in accommodation managed by the institutions receive the support that they require to prevent any need to break self-isolation, such as the provision of food to meet their nutritional, cultural and dietary needs and support in relation to their mental health wellbeing and access to medical attention when required.

Quarantine arrangements for students who arrive in the UK from red-list countries need to meet separate specifications, to be in line with quarantine arrangements made with contracted hotels etc. The specification has made available for institutions to consider. Any institutions that are able and choose to meet the required specification for isolation for students arriving in the UK from red-list countries will work with the Scottish Government on the practical application of those specifications.

First published: 15 Jul 2021 Last updated: 22 Jul 2021 -