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Covid: New guidance issued for students wanting to go home
Covid: New guidance issued for students wanting to go home avatar

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New guidance has been issued by the Scottish government for students affected by coronavirus restrictions.

It says students can visit their parents if there is a "reasonable excuse" such as a family emergency.

Those who have been advised to self-isolate can return home if they require help to do so.

And students wanting to return home on a permanent basis can do so under existing rules which allow the formation of a new household.

The guidelines were issued after a flood of complaints from students who felt they were trapped in university or college accommodation.

The move has been welcomed by the students' union NUS Scotland.

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."

Education minister Richard Lochhead said the guidance still encourages students to remain on campus if they are able to do so.

He said: "We would encourage students to remain living in their current accommodation where they are able to, so they can continue to benefit from both a blend of digital and in-person learning, where that is possible and the opportunity to engage with others, within the restrictions, to build new networks and to make new friends.

"However, we know that many students may be struggling with the prospect of not being able to return home to visit family and other support networks, especially if is the first time in their life they have been away from home.

"Knowing what to consider in deciding whether to return home will help support wellbeing and enable students to make informed choices, but it is important to stress that adjusting to life away from home is always challenging."

Student health

The body representing Scottish universities said student welfare must be a priority.

Prof Gerry McCormac, Convener of Universities Scotland, said: "With the support of their universities, students need to choose what is right for their own physical and mental health.

"Unfortunately the current situation with this pandemic means these choices do need to be balanced within the wider public health context.

"There is a real benefit, we believe, in staying at university this semester and benefiting from the blend of both digital and in-person learning and the wider range of services and support that is available."

Prof McCormac added: "It has been a very difficult start to the new academic year for the entire student community, both those returning to university and in particular, those attending for the first time."

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