SCOTTISH Labour has demanded that a full public inquiry that takes place into the Covid-19 crisis examines whether allowing students to return to university during the pandemic was appropriate.

Nicola Sturgeon has previously committed that a full inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic will take place “in the fullness of time”.

A row emerged when university students returned to accommodation last month with many forced to self-isolate after outbreaks in halls of residence. Concerns were also raised over confusing and conflicting guidance on whether students could return home to self-isolate.

Last week, it was reported that 759 students are Covid positive .

The situation prompted the Scottish Human Rights Commission to warn that "questions as to whether it was appropriate to allow students, both Scottish and international, to take up places in student residences at this point in the pandemic, should be scrutinised by any future public inquiry".

The commission added that it was "concerned about the restrictions placed on many students at the present time, particularly those living in student accommodation, living alone for the first time without family or other supports, and lacking clear information on the restrictions which apply to them".

Now Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has written to Ms Sturgeon, having previously raised concerns about the welfare of students, calling on her to put this commitment on the record.

Mr Leonard said: "In spite of evidence suggesting that it was not safe, the Scottish Government gave universities the green light to bring all students back to campuses.

"Many students have been forced to self-isolate in appalling conditions since then. They have faced shambolically confusing guidance, unacceptable and avoidable anxieties, and a regime of disproportionately punitive rules. I have spoken to students in the past few weeks who have said they have felt misled, and that the return to universities should not have happened.

"I welcome the Scottish Human Rights Commission's call for this decision to be scrutinised by the post-pandemic public inquiry. Today I am calling on the First Minister to commit the inquiry to investigating this on the basis of human rights."

The First Minister said the decisions to allow students to return were “really difficult” judgements.

Speaking at last week’s First Minister’s Questions, she added: “Now you can argue – and it’s not an illegitimate thing to argue – that we should just have kept everybody at home.

“But there would have been harm done to students there. They would have been denied the opportunity to have the links and make the connections that come with being in a campus environment.

“Because university is about more than lectures and academic learning.”