Studying at a Scottish University? What You Need to Know During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Last updated 16/03/2020 at 15:41

No matter if you are just starting university, are in your final year, or are doing a post-grad or PhD - the university experience has changed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Here's what you need to know.

Returning to university 

It is expected that on 17th May, university students will return to a more blended model of learning (both online and in-person classes). Your university website will have the latest information about what this means for you. 

Some university students may already be back at university doing some limited face-to-face learning, where this is critical and time-sensitive to their course or assessment and cannot be delivered remotely. 


The majority of classes will be online until at least the middle of May. When on-campus learning is possible again, or if you return to a blended learning model, your university should inform you what lectures, classes and labs are in person and which are online only.

Face coverings should be worn in indoor spaces/places, where physical distancing is difficult and where there is a risk of contact within two metres with people who are not members of your household. Some Universities have made face coverings mandatory in all campus spaces, so be sure to check their website.

You may be exempt from wearing a face-covering if you:

  • have a health condition that would cause difficulty, pain or severe distress or anxiety to you by wearing one
  • are eating, drinking or exercising
  • need to take medication and cannot do so whilst wearing a face covering
  • communicating with someone else who relies on lip-reading and facial expressions to communicate. You should only take it off when communicating and replace it immediately afterwards


The people you share a flat or student halls with are now your new household. If you moved out from your family home, or used to live with different housemates, they now count as a separate household and you can now only meet them outdoors or in a hospitality venue (with a max of six people). 

If you decide you would like to move out of student halls or accommodation earlier than originally agreed, you can do so - but it must be for a reason related to coronavirus (COVID-19). You’ll need to tell your landlord in writing and state the date that you want it to end, this date should be after your notice period. You need to give:

  • seven days’ notice if you entered into the tenancy agreement and lived in the property at any time before 27 May 2020, or
  • 28 days’ notice in all other cases

If you have a joint tenancy agreement and everyone wants the tenancy to end due to coronavirus, notice must be given by all those tenants.

Find out more information about ending your tenancy agreement in student accomodation on the Citizens Advice Scotland website. 

Moving back home permanently 

If you are thinking about moving back home for the rest of your academic year, you should chat to your University first about any support they may be able to offer you to make your learning and living experience better. 

If you decide to move back home, you and the household you are returning to must self-isolate for 10 days. You should also not use public transport to travel home and follow current travel guidance.

Visiting home

The people you live with at university are now your household. This means that if you go to visit family that you used to live with or other flatmates you shared accommodation with, they now count as a separate household. This means you cannot meet them indoors or stay overnight. You can visit them in hospitality venues such as bars, restaurants or cafes, but must continue to practice physical distancing and enhanced hygiene. 

It can be really easy to start to feel homesick when living away from home. However, it's really important that we all play our part to stop the spread of COVID-19. Rather than going back home, why not schedule a video call with the loved ones you are missing? 


On 14th December 2020, the length of time people should self-isolate for changed from 14 days to 10 days.

If you have been asked to self-isolate this means you must stay in your accommodation. You cannot go to work, to indoor hospitality settings like bars or restaurants, out for food shopping, to in-person classes or meet any other households indoors or outdoors. 

You should contact your university's student support service as soon as you can to get the information and support you need. Your University may also have a specific coronavirus (COVID-19) support service you can contact. 

If you have separate rooms/bathrooms in your halls of residence, you should stick to this room. In terms of shared spaces, your University will inform you whether you can use shared bathrooms/kitchens or if they will provide cleaners or specific food delivery. 

If you need to return home because you require the support and care of someone you don't currently live with to be able to self-isolate, it is important you follow the guidance on self-isolating to make sure it can be done so as safely as possible. This could be for physical, financial or mental health support. Everyone in the house you are going back to must also self-isolate. 

If you are being collected from your accommodation by a parent, family member, friend or another supportive person, they should contact your accommodation provider for guidance on how to do so safely.

Once you are ready to return, you should contact your accommodation provider to let them know you are returning.

Check out our other tips on dealing with self-isolation.

Protecting yourself and others

The best way to protect yourself and others is to follow FACTS:

  • 😷 Face coverings
  • 🙅 Avoid crowded spaces
  • 🧼 Clean your hands regularly 
  • ↔️ Two-metre distance
  • 🌡 Self isolate and book a test if you have symptoms

On top of this, you should also download the free NHS Scotland Test & Protect app.


These are difficult and overwhelming times - especially when you have to think about studying, coursework and exams on top of everything else that is happening in the world.

If you need any help or support, you should contact your university's student support services. They can help with things like finance, learning support, mental health, childcare and much more. 

Some universities also have Nightline, a service that allows students to talk on the phone or via emails, instant messages and texts to their fellow university students about anything that’s troubling them. Find out if that service is available to you on Nightline's website.

Find out more about looking after your mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Visit our coronavirus (COVID-19) information hub.