In light of the new lockdown, the University had issued detailed guidance to students regarding returning to St Andrews, online teaching and accommodation.
Principle and Vice-Chancellor, Sally Mapstone’s email to the student body outlined essential advice from the Scottish Government, stating that students should stay at home unless they fit into certain exemptions.
It has been advised by the Scottish Government that students should not return to campus until in-person teaching resumes, which will be in March at the earliest.
Professor Mapstone’s email reads:
“Although the Scottish Government has said it will be at least March before students are allowed to return to university campuses, we think it is prudent to advise you that it may be even later than that before in-person teaching is permitted to resume.”
Although Professor Mapstone noted that “Covid remains a relative rarity in St Andrews and North-East Fife,” she attributed this to the efforts of students and staff last term in “working together to keep our community safe” and highlighted the need for students to continue to support one another through the difficult situation.
As Coronavirus deaths, hospital admissions and cases in Scotland reached record high, First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, introduced a new national lockdown on Monday 4 January 2020.
Tweeting that same day, Ms Sturgeon said, “Being back in lockdown is really hard to take for everyone, but it is necessary to slow down this new strain of the virus while we get people vaccinated. Please – for you own safety, that of your loved ones and of the whole country: Stay at Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives.”
UK wide, border restrictions were also introduced this week. This means that on entry to the UK, a negative Coronavirus test is required.
A negative Coronavirus test is also required by the Scottish Government when crossing the border from any of the other three UK nations.
Travel restrictions apply across the whole UK and international borders, which make clear that you should not travel unless it is essential. Since in-person teaching is not going ahead, traveling back to campus, for most cases, is not deemed essential.
Students in the School of Medicine on the BSc Medicine and ScotGem programmes, who are designated key workers, are exempt from travel restrictions when moving back to university campus to resume essential in-person teaching.
The President of the Students’ Association’s email, which followed that of Ms Mapstone, outlined other exemptions. These exemptions mean that students may return to their term-time address if they have a challenging or unsuitable home environment or a health and wellbeing reason.
International students who have booked travel can also return within the guidance, but they must be aware that from next week they will need a negative test result to enter the UK and they will need to quarantine if their country is not on the exemptions list.
This email further informed students that “If you return to St Andrews, you will need to inform the University through the survey in the “My Details” tab on MySaint , though this won’t be available this weekend due to essential maintenance.”
The President of the Student Association, Dan Marshall, also explained that the University plans to refund rent to students staying in University accommodation during the period of online teaching.
However, as the students in non-University accommodation will not be receiving the same refund from the University itself, the Student Union plans on “lobbying the government to act to support private renters, but for now, you should inform your landlord that you are not coming back when expected and ask them about a rent reduction.”
This effort is also coupled with the efforts of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Conservatives, who converge on their views that students should not be made to pay rent for unusable property.
Mr Marshall also stated that “If you are experiencing any financial difficulties, please get in touch with the Student Services Money Team at moneyadvice@ who can offer advice and where possible help you apply to the Discretionary Fund.”