Union bosses have hit back at plans to continue in-person teaching, claiming students will remain at risk until guidance changes.  

Richard Lochhead MSP, minister for further education, higher education and science wrote a letter to higher education stakeholders on Wednesday following the announcement of temporary restrictions to control the spread of Covid-19. 

He said: "I am writing to update you following the First Minister’s announcement of further, temporary restrictions to control the spread of coronavirus in Scotland, and their implications for students, colleges and universities.

"As you are aware the virus levels in Scotland have been increasing. Drawing on evidence from our senior clinicians, the First Minster has set out a targeted approach to control the risk of transmission as tough action is needed now to avoid tougher action in the future.

"To confirm, we are not going back into lockdown and colleges and universities will remain open with blended learning in place."

He added that staff and students will still be able to attend campus where necessary, and meet up for food and non-alcoholic drinks subject to the rules of social gatherings.

The letter continued: "We expect that campus catering will be able to continue and food deliveries to students self-isolating should be maintained.

"And while the additional restrictions in the central belt will curtail some activities, outdoor exercise and individual exercise in gyms are still permitted."

However, UCU Scotland president Dr Carlo Morelli believes this guidance will leave students at risk, emphasising the need to move teaching fully online to keep students safe.

He said: “These measures do not go far enough.

"With too many students in Scotland contracting the virus in student accommodation and with universities still saying in-person teaching is necessary, it’s time for the Scottish government to change its guidance for universities. 

"Ministers need to make clear that all teaching and student support possible should be moved online. 

"We have just a short time to act and its essential that Ministers change the guidance to make online and remote learning the default.”

It comes after a number of Scotland’s universities experienced outbreaks of coronavirus in student residences over recent weeks - leading to many students self-isolating and isolated.

The UCU previously raised concerns over possible human rights implications after Scotland's students were told not to go to pubs and restaurants to curb the spread of the virus.

Hundreds of students have tested positive for coronavirus across the country since term began.