Principals urged to ‘look sympathetically’ on students over accommodation

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Scotland’s further and higher education minister has urged colleges and universities to “look sympathetically” on students who have to either extend or cut short stays in student accommodation due to coronavirus.

In a letter to principals, Richard Lochhead reiterated warnings from the First Minister and chief medical officer that students should not attempt to return home during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Lockdown measures put in place by Government last week could extend beyond the leases of students on university and college campuses, leaving some to question where they will go when their tenancy ends.

Farmers rally in Edinburgh
Richard Lochhead has asked institutions to be ‘as helpful as possible’ (Danny Lawson/PA)

He said: “I’ve also asked that – in addition to this ongoing support for students remaining in accommodation – institutions look sympathetically on any need for students to extend their stay beyond existing arrangements.

“I have also asked that this be extended to those who have returned to the family home and are having to ask to break agreements, and that institutions continue to be as helpful as possible to avoid disadvantaging these students.

“I have copied my letter to the networks involving student accommodation providers, so that it reaches not only all universities and colleges, but also private sector providers who also are playing such an important role in supporting students.”

The minister also told the principals in his letter that no students should make an attempt to travel home, even if their home is in Scotland.

He added: “I have written to all university and college principals, copied to networks involving student accommodation providers, thanking them for all their efforts as we respond to Covid-19.

“I’ve made it clear that advice from the chief medical officer and Scottish Government is that students remaining at college and university accommodation should stay where they are and not attempt to travel to their family home, even if that is in another part of Scotland.

“Whether they are living in student halls or private rented accommodation, they should remain there and not travel unless for food, healthcare or essential work.”

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