Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): universities, colleges and community learning and development providers

Last updated: 23 Dec 2021 - see all updates
Published: 10 Aug 2021

Guidance for operations in the academic year 2021 to 2022.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): universities, colleges and community learning and development providers


Please read this guide in conjunction with two letters to this sector: in-person teaching (issued November 2021) and Omicron variant transmission (issued December 2021).

This operational guidance provides advice on COVID-19 transmission risk-reduction mitigations to support universities, colleges and Community Learning and Development (CLD) providers to plan for and operate in the academic year 2021-22.

It reflects:

  • the lifting of restrictions on society in general
  • the resumption of in-person learning and research together with wider student activities
  • an emphasis based less on national ‘rules’ and more on the reduction and management of risk, and good practice for achieving this
  • an understanding that the virus is unpredictable and significant risks remain
  • the advice prepared to support higher and further education bodies to plan an approach to COVID risk-reduction by the COVID-19 Advisory Sub-group for Universities and Colleges

The guidance is subject to review and amendment to account for developments relating to alleviating the harms of the virus, the latest expert advice as that evolves, and consideration of feedback on effective implementation of the guidance itself.

The guidance covers:

  • the national framework for guidance at ‘beyond Level 0’
  • steering principles that underpin workable and practical Guidance for the sector to follow
  • detail on the learning and teaching environment, ventilation, and guidance on travel and international students
  • key measures to help suppress the virus, and their application to the sector, e.g., vaccination, testing, managed isolation etc
  • recommendations from the Scottish Government on specific policy areas pertinent to the sector, that are intended to foster good practice and keep people safe

Scotland's Strategic Framework

The Strategic Framework (November 2021)  is the main source of information for this Guidance. It makes clear what the national measures, provided for either by regulations or in guidance, are:

  • it will continue to be the law, subject to exceptions, that face coverings must be worn in indoor public places and on public transport
  • Test & Protect will continue to contact-trace positive cases. Anyone who is required to self-isolate will, if eligible, continue to have access to support
  • we will work closely with local incident management teams on appropriate outbreak control measures
  • we will continue to use travel restrictions, as and when necessary, to restrict the spread of outbreaks and protect against the risk of importation of new variants
  • we continue to advise home working where possible, recognising that some staff will start to return to offices in line with staff wellbeing discussions and business need
  • rigorous hygiene, including regular hand washing, will along with good ventilation, continue to be essential

On physical distancing, even though the law will not mandate it, we continue to advise that, especially indoors, keeping a reasonable distance from people in other households and avoiding places that are crowded will minimise risk.

Adults identified as close contacts of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 will no longer be automatically required to self-isolate for 10 days. Anyone who is double-vaccinated with at least two weeks passed since their second dose and who has no symptoms will be able to end self-isolation if they return a negative PCR test.

Universities and colleges are expected to continue taking all reasonable steps to protect staff, outsourced workers, students, visitors and others from coronavirus. By law, institutions will continue to undertake appropriate COVID-19 risk assessment work, and involve trade unions and student bodies in such work.

National guidance for safer workplaces aims to support a safer economic recovery by providing advice and guidance on baseline measures and good practice which businesses, employers and employees should have regard to.

The situation is kept under constant review and protections could be scaled up to suppress the virus.

First published: 10 Aug 2021 Last updated: 23 Dec 2021 -