COVID-19 testing for university students: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

Any briefing papers or advice to ministers concerning COVID-19 testing for university students,and any communications between Scottish Government officials regarding these briefings or advice. I would like this information from 15 September 2020 to 30 September 2020.


I have concluded that most of the information you have requested will be released and can be found at Annex A.

A small amount of information has been redacted throughout these documents because of the following exemptions:

  • section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) has been applied due to information containing personal data of a third party, i.e. names, contact details, and other identifiable information, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018;

  • section 28 (1)(a) of FOISA (relations within the United Kingdom) has been applied as disclosure of this information under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially relations between any administration in the United Kingdom and any other such administrations; and

  • section 30 (b)(i) &(ii) (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) has been applied as disclosure of this information under this Act would, or would likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice; and the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberations.

The information released here demonstrates the robust approach to student and staff safety and the steps taken to successfully control outbreaks in student accommodation.

Management Information on the number of students who have tested positive for COVID-19 varies from source to source for a variety of recording and quality reasons. The Scottish Government publishes a consistent time series of known cases on the Scottish Government website here: Coronavirus (COVID-19): daily data for Scotland - (

We have learned lessons from the start of the academic year and this has informed our approach to semester 2. The measures we have put in place include:

  • A staggered restart of in person teaching and the return of undergraduate students to their term time accommodation over at least 6 week period. This is based on clinical advice and the uncertainty of virus levels in January, and is intended to considerably reduce the number of students returning to university in any one week;

  • To minimise the risk to students and others on their return to their term-time accommodation, we are asking students to voluntarily reduce their social mixing for two weeks before and two weeks after returning to university. This means going out only for essential reasons including learning, food shopping and exercise; and

  • Testing will be put in place for the return of students in the New Year and details of this will also be set out shortly.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI202000113889 - Annex A


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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