Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): universities, colleges and student accommodation providers

Published: 21 Dec 2020
Last updated: 16 Apr 2021 - see all updates

Guidance for higher and further education institutions and student accommodation providers to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19): universities, colleges and student accommodation providers


This guidance is for the college, university and student accommodation (including student associations, halls of residence and Purpose Built Student Accommodation Providers) sectors in Scotland.

It is updated and renewed as circumstances change. It sets out both the Scottish Government’s current advice and guidance for institutions and providers 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 institutions and providers 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. It continues to be informed by our framework for decision making and Strategic Framework which sets out a sustainable response to the pandemic. The Strategic Framework covers the four key harms of the virus, how we will work to suppress the virus, and sets out a strategic approach to outbreak management based on five levels of protection.

The postcode checker can be used to check a local COVID protection level.  The protection level tells you what you can and cannot do in that area. COVID protection levels are subject to regular review.

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

The guidance emphasises in particular the importance of undertaking robust and ongoing risk assessments with full input from trade unions and student associations and to keep all risk mitigation measures under regular review so that staff and students continue to feel, and be safe.

Each institution has a distinct and diverse mix of 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. This also applies to accommodation providers. Policy and action will be guided by public health advice and a measured approach to managing risk through local consultation on appropriate measures. 

First published: 21 Dec 2020 Last updated: 16 Apr 2021 -