Publication - Advice and guidance

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

Published: 21 Dec 2020
Last updated: 1 Jun 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) sectors in Scotland and is in effect as of 17 May 2021 This includes student associations, halls of residence and Purpose Built Student Accommodation Providers.

This guidance applies to on-campus and off-campus activity provided by colleges and universities.

Students can find information at  Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Student Support - Scotland (

The guidance does not amount to legal advice. Institutions, accommodation providers or individuals who are unsure of how any legal duties or restrictions apply to them should take independent legal advice.

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.

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.

Use the postcode checker  to check a local COVID-19 protection level.  The protection level tells you what you can and cannot do in that area. COVID protection levels are subject to regular review.

Levels might also be different for areas between a student’s home and their university accommodation. It is important that students follow the relevant rules in each area for the purposes of travel and other restrictions.

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 having in place robust risk assessments with full input from trade unions and student associations. Risk assessments and mitigation measures should be reviewed regularly 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: 1 Jun 2021 -