UNIVERSITIES and colleges are set for a “phased campus return” in the next academic year, Scotland’s Universities Minister has indicated. 

The Scottish Government’s route map to lifting the Covid-19 lockdown points to higher education institutions re-opening their doors to students in the third phase of the programme. Most universities and colleges are planning, initially, for a combination of digital and physical learning – with social distancing rules in place. 

In the fourth and final phase of lifting the lockdown, under the Scottish Government plans, college and university campuses would be fully open. 

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Universities Minister Richard Lochhead has written to Scotland’s college and university principals, outlining the measures and changes as they prepare over the summer to welcome students back. 

He said: “Preparations are now underway for Scotland’s colleges and universities to have a phased campus return in the new academic year, with the safety of students and staff of paramount importance. 

“Scotland is an innovative country and the response of our colleges and universities to deliver a quality experience for their students by continuing to deliver learning and teaching and ensuring that as many of our learners as possible obtain their qualifications will demonstrate this. 

"While next year will undoubtedly be different, studying with our institutions will continue to be world class, attracting students from across the globe, and anyone thinking about studying in Scotland should apply without delay.” 

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Details of arrangements for learning and teaching in individual institutions will be posted on their websites and their own social media channels. 

Professor Andrea Nolan, convener of Universities Scotland, said: “Universities are working hard to adapt their arrangements so they can continue to offer students a high quality learning experience and wide range of support services in the autumn.  

“Universities have sought to keep their students safe and informed throughout the pandemic and have stayed in touch with offer holders. Universities will confirm their individual start dates for next year as soon as possible; some have already done so.” 

She added: “Next term’s teaching will include a flexible blend of digital learning and safe on-campus provision. Universities are drawing on their years of experience of different approaches to teaching to ensure this meets learners’ needs and continues to deliver the high quality learning for which they are renowned. 

“Scotland’s universities have long been a beacon for students from all over the world and that is still an important part of who we are as a country. The Scottish Government will be working closely with the university sector to ensure that remains the case.”