COVID-19 safety is top priority - joint statement from all Scottish university principals

Professor Crichton Lang, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, has signed a joint statement to university students confirming that public health is a top priority as a university leader. The statement has been agreed by all principals of Scottish universities. As a university partnership of colleges and research insititutions which offers a full range of further and higher education courses, our priority is to provide a safe learning environment to all staff and all students, whatever their level of study. We have been delivering a personalised learning experience to our students through blended learning for over 20 years and are experienced in supporting students in this way. We have the existing expertise, knowledge and practical skills to enhance the delivery of all courses across further and higher education, while still adhering and adapting to changing government guidelines.

The joint statement follows:

We are so pleased to be able to welcome every student, new or returning, to our universities. It is so important that you have the chance to continue your education and to take the next positive step into your future. We want you to receive the best possible education and to offer you a supportive and engaging student experience this year but our top priority as universities, in the midst of a pandemic, is to keep you and our staff safe and to contribute to keeping everyone else in our towns and cities, across Scotland as safe as possible.

This is a shared responsibility. We’re still battling a pandemic. We all have an important part to play in supressing transmission of the virus. Students have shown incredible solidarity in fight against the pandemic and support for the most vulnerable. Students in health disciplines were amongst the first to offer to work on the NHS frontline, students made PPE when stocks were in short supply and volunteered in many community settings.

We need the whole university community to continue to look out for each other, and for the wider community, in the every-day actions we take as we start a new academic year.

Staff in universities have worked incredibly hard from the early summer to plan for the new semester and adapt our approaches to teaching and our campuses to keep you safe. We will offer you the expertise of our teachers, researchers and student services through a mix of flexible and accessible routes. Student Associations and the sabbatical teams have been a valued partner in putting these plans in place and we’re very grateful for their energy and commitment.

Campuses will look and feel different this term. With a blended approach to teaching in the first semester there will be fewer people on campus than usual and our spaces will be reconfigured to support physical distancing, enhanced hygiene protocols and the use of tech to support NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect contact tracing system. Students can support this further by downloading the NHS Scotland Protect Scotland contact tracing app.

As universities, we will continue to work tirelessly to deliver on our responsibilities to you, as our students, and to the wider communities we are proud to be a part of. We will continue to work closely with the Scottish Government and public health bodies to ensure we adhere to the latest guidance as needed.

As students, we ask you to recognise the important role and responsibility that you have, on and off campus, to keep yourself, and the wider communities around you, safe from coronavirus. Please prioritise public health so we can ensure that the new academic year is a safe and satisfying experience for everyone.