OUTBREAKS of coronavirus in university halls are “past the worst”, but further cases among students are likely, the head of Scotland’s higher education umbrella body has said.

Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland, said the vast majority of students had behaved responsibly but a minority “didn’t quite get it”.

MPS heard how Mr Sim did not think universities would ever be in a position where there were zero outbreaks, due to how infectious the virus is.

In the past weeks, hundreds of Scottish students have been forced to self-isolate following several outbreaks in several halls of residence.

Mr Sim said: “Particularly with those institutions that started their terms a few weeks ago, we’re kind of getting past the worst.

“What happened was that the overwhelming majority of students behaved extremely responsibly, having lived through this crisis for so long.

“There was a bit of a minority that didn’t quite get it because of the sheer infectiousness of the disease and it did spread more than anyone had foreseen or wanted.”

He said students at Edinburgh Napier University were now beginning to come out of self-isolation, adding: “I don’t think, given the prevalence of the virus, we’re ever going to be in a position where there aren’t any outbreaks among students.”

A number of residential halls had a reduced occupancy and would operate at a loss, he said, but in general “students are staying”.

Meanwhile, GUSRC VP Student Support Ella McCabe of the University of Glasgow has said some students nearing the end of the isolation period are "struggling."

In a recent student newsletter, she said: "Most people we spoke to were pretty upbeat and seemed glad to talk to us about what they were going through.

"Those who told us they were nearing the end of the isolation period however, did seem to be struggling a bit more.

"There was also quite a wholesome atmosphere. We noticed some parents who were visiting and dropping off isolation packages and chatting through windows.

"There were also some students using Post-It notes to write messages on their windows: from just ‘Hi’, to sharing their Instagram names for people to add."

SNP MP Mhairi Black asked what lessons had been learned and what practices would be maintained after the pandemic.

Mr Sim acknowledged that students who had to self-isolate had faced “really, really difficult circumstances” but said going forward universities would be better adept at making the digital learning experience "as good as it can be”.