‘Struggling’ students in Scotland told they can return home after Covid-19 spike
Students who are struggling at university accommodation have been told they can return home due to recent outbreaks of Covid-19.
The Education Minister said he does not expect a “mass exodus” after updated guidance was published by the Scottish government.
The guidance states students can visit parents if there is a “reasonable excuse” such as a family emergency. But with no reasonable excuse, short stays are still deemed an “offence.”
The updated guidelines come after a lot of complaints from students who felt they were trapped in university accommodation.
Speaking on BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr Lochhead said: “I know many students are struggling at the moment but I also know many students accept that they want to be at university.
“It is challenging at the moment, especially if they are self-isolating, but they are enjoying the opportunity of making new connections, of at least meeting their tutors, albeit a lot of their learning is online.
“So I don’t expect a mass exodus from Scotland’s campuses but the opportunity is there for those that are struggling.”
Those wanting to permanently return to another home have been asked to self-isolate and not use public transport.
Student union NUS Scotland has welcomed the news.
Its president Matt Crilly said: “Today’s guidance provides welcome clarity to the students in halls, who will be considering their next steps.
“We welcome that students will be able to return home on a permanent basis. However, we are disappointed that the government continues to talk up in-person teaching, which may keep students on campus and increase risks unnecessarily.
“We continue to call on the Scottish government to strengthen teaching guidance so remote learning is the default and a reality for as many students as possible.”
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said the situation with students is still confusing.
He told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland: “On one hand students are being told they can go home, then they are being told they can go home if there are certain circumstances and I think there are still questions over what those circumstances are.”
He says ministers should have anticipated problems given what happened in the US when students went to back to university and colleague.
He added: “This guidance should have been absolutely crystal clear before these young people left home and certainly before they got to university and were, in many cases, locked up in halls of horror.”
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