All Scottish students banned from going to pub after string of Covid outbreaks

All Scottish students banned from going to pub after string of Covid outbreaks

Students across Scotland have been banned from going to the pub this weekend.

And those who repeatedly flout coronavirus guidelines could be thrown out of university, under new rules amid concerns over a number of outbreaks since term started.

Representatives from higher education in Scotland met to discuss a range of measures which would be introduced.

It has seen students required to download the Protect Scotland tracing app and they have been asked not to attend bars at the weekend.

Universities have also now agreed to introduce a “yellow card, red card” system for breaches of student discipline that put students and others at risk, which could result in an end to their studies.

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NHS staff hand out test kits to Glasgow University students as they arrive for testing at a pop up test centre at the Murano Street Student Village

But the National Union of Students say the measure “unfairly blames students for the spread of coronavirus” and is unjustified in treating students differently to the rest of the population.

Gerry McCormac, convener of Universities Scotland, said: “University leaders share the Scottish Government’s complete commitment to keeping the student population and the wider community safe.

“We have already implemented strict measures to ensure the safety of the university environment, both for teaching and for student residences.

“We have seen the majority of students live up to our expectations of responsible behaviour, but a minority have not.

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A considerable number of students have tested positive following an outbreak of Covid -19 at the halls of residence

“Everyone across the nation shares the concern at seeing students in residences test positive for the virus and we will act decisively to deal with this.

“The additional actions we will take to drive down the transmission of the virus in student accommodation build on the wide-ranging measures already agreed with Scottish Government.

“Taken together, we are confident that these will help significantly to control the virus in student accommodation and impact on the number of positive cases; after the inevitable time-lag caused by some existing cases not yet being symptomatic.

“Our top priority is making sure that students that have tested positive and those quarantining are well-supported and ready to return to their studies.

“We appreciate this isn’t what students would have expected from their first few weeks at university, but it is critical that they play their part in suppressing the virus.”

Sturgeon ‘sorry’

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “To all students – I’m so sorry Covid is making this special time of your lives so tough.

“But it won’t be forever and the more we get the virus back under control now, the sooner you’ll get a bit of normality back. So, please do what’s being asked of you.”

Universities have also agreed to increase staff presence in student accommodation.

They said they will be “vigilant” against any breaches of guidance and will also offer welfare and practical support to those experiencing isolation.

The meeting was made up of university principals as well as Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead.

Glasgow University students queue at a pop up test centre at the Murano Street Student Village

He said: “This is a welcome package of additional actions, building on the clear guidance that is already in place, to support all students and staff adhere to the rules and stay safe as they make a welcome return to study.

“We expect everyone to comply with public health advice and, as new laws come into force tomorrow, it’s even more important institutions make every effort to ensure the rules are understood and followed – and appropriate actions are taken if not.

“We know that these are difficult times for many students and we are grateful to them for the sacrifices they are making to protect themselves, their fellow students and the wider community.”

Blame game ‘unfair’

University and College Union’s (UCU) Scotland official Mary Senior said: “It is astounding that the Scottish Government and principals are blaming students for Covid outbreaks on university campuses.

“This is an incredibly contagious virus and students were encouraged to return to campuses.

“UCU has argued that the default position for universities should be remote and online working, in line with other workplaces.”

Matt Crilly, NUS Scotland president, added: “Tonight’s announcement by Universities Scotland and endorsed by the Scottish Government unfairly blames students for the spread of coronavirus and takes the unjustified step of applying different rules to students over and above the rest of the adult population.”

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