THE SNP has been accused of “raising more questions” over the university rules fiasco by publishing unclear updated guidance.

Nicola Sturgeon has praised the “vast majority” of university students who followed strict weekend rules including a pub ban as she stressed her commitment to ensuring young people can return home for Christmas.

A row erupted after students were told not to visit any hospitality setting over the weekend – including pubs and restaurants – while fears were raised over the mental health of young people after being told they cannot return home to self-isolate Concerns have been raised that the strict rules on students living in halls may impede their human rights.

Speaking at her daily coronavirus briefing, the First Minister issued students a “big thank you”, stressing that the “vast majority” of them had followed the rules over the weekend – not meeting people from other households indoors and staying away from pubs, cafes and restaurants.

She added: “Sticking to guidelines like that isn’t easy especially in the early days of a university term but it will make a difference.

“The incubation period for this virus means I am absolutely sure that we will continue to see increased numbers of infections amongst students for several days to come and there will always be a need for vigilance.

“But the responsibility that has been shown over the past few days will help our efforts to stem this spread and I want to say thank you for that.”

Ms Sturgeon echoed the sentiment of her Deputy First Minister John Swinney by stressing her “priority” to ensure students can return home for the Christmas break.

Reports over the weekend suggested that students were already leaving campuses amid fears over the tight restrictions, with many unaware of the rules before signing up for their accommodation.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Don’t assume that the rules in place now for home visits will still apply at Christmas.

“We review the rules every three weeks and that’s why we cannot provide specific guidance for Christmas right now because that will of course depend on the course of the pandemic but I want to be very clear that it is absolutely our priority to make sure students can go home for Christmas as I know everybody will want to do.”

But Conservatives have claimed the new guidance “raises as many questions as answers” - with the party lodging a parliamentary question to demand further clarity, guidance and support for students.

The Tories claim the guidance is confusing around self-isolation rules for households when a student moves, when students will be able to return home, and what constitutes a “reasonable excuse”.

Universities Minister Richard Lochhead said on Monday morning that he “didn’t know” about Scottish Government modelling showing what would happen when students returned to universities.

Scottish Conservative education spokesman, Jamie Greene, said: “The guidance issued late last night was clearly another rushed, last-minute job and it looks like the fog hasn’t lifted. It has thrown up as many new questions as answers.

“The SNP have muddied the waters more. Families are still waiting for clarity on who needs to self-isolate if students return home from halls of residence. Students don’t know if they’ll be able to go home for reading weeks or at Christmas.”

He added: “A difficult situation has been compounded by SNP mistakes, u-turns and oversights. This could have been a bump in the road and instead it’s been a car crash.

“This is all evidence that the First Minister should be announcing new regulations in the Scottish Parliament where MSPs can challenge the flaws straight away. The lack of immediate scrutiny has clearly made this situation worse.”