Richard Leonard has urged a human rights body to investigate possible breaches against students.

Students have been subjected to tough new rules after universities in Scotland and across the UK have seen a spike in coronavirus cases in recent days, forcing hundreds of students to self-isolate in their halls.

Universities Scotland and the Scottish Government asked all students to avoid pubs, restaurants and other hospitality businesses this weekend in a bid to stem the spread of Covid-19.

In a letter penned to the Scottish Human Rights Commission, the leader of Scottish Labour called for an investigation into seven separate areas of concern, including visits to hospitality, ambiguity in enforcement, the suitability of student halls and differences between rules for them and the public.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Scots react to University of Glasgow's measures to support students self-isolating

The ban on socialising outside their household, the requirement to download the Test and Protect tracing app and a lack of acknowledgement that some students are 17 years old were also raised by Mr Leonard.

Although he accepted the pandemic has forced a change to how people live their lives in Scotland, he said: “In asking the public to make further sacrifices, the Scottish Government also has a reciprocal duty to do what it can to protect against the virus.

"This means ensuring that the same mistakes made at the start of the pandemic are not repeated.

“Recently, concerns related specifically to the freedom of students studying in Scotland have been reported.

“Given the severity of the matter, I encourage the Scottish Human Rights Commission to conduct an urgent examination into whether the announcements made by the Scottish Government regarding students contravenes human rights law.”

On Friday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would support universities expelling students “as a last resort” if they “flagrantly” breach rules.

READ MORE: University of Glasgow: Student parties continue despite strict new rules to stem spread of coronavirus

The decisions have caused uproar among students and prompted Scotland’s Children and Young People’s Commissioner Bruce Adamson to raise fears over the mental health of students.

Mr Leonard added: “The issues facing students that I have detailed were therefore arguably preventable, and University and College Union have even questioned the motivation in bringing students back onto campuses, highlighting that student accommodation ‘provides important commercial income for universities’ and ‘cross subsidies teaching’.

“While the situation within universities is still developing, I am concerned that it may continue for some time, especially due to the nature of the communal living arrangements in much student accommodation.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “There are no legal restrictions which apply solely to students.

“Measures which restrict social gatherings between households treat students equally with the rest of the population, and are in place for clear public health reasons as part of our response to a global pandemic.

“However we recognise that student households are not always the same as those of other adults, and so we are considering what additional guidance can be given to students.

“These regulations are reviewed every three weeks and will not be in place a moment longer than they have to be.

“Additional advice and guidance from Universities Scotland for this weekend only is in response to evidence of the spread of the virus within the student community.

“As we have already said, in the fullness of time we expect all aspects of Covid-19 handling to be subject to an inquiry.”