29 March 2021
As you will have seen in the news, Scotland is starting to prepare for an easing of lockdown restrictions, with various areas of the economy and wider day-to-day life opening up in the coming weeks.
We anticipate that this will include some changes to on-campus learning and teaching for universities. At present, University of the West of Scotland is delivering limited in-person teaching, in line with government guidelines.
As per the First Minister’s latest announcement, from 17 May onwards – provided it is safe to do so – we may be able to deliver a more blended model of learning; however there will still be limits and restrictions in place in terms of numbers allowed on campus. We expect to be provided with more information on what this might look like from Scottish Government the week beginning 29 March.
The easing of restrictions will not come into force in time for the University’s spring break, meaning that students will not be able to move freely over this period.
If you are currently living in residences, you cannot return home unless for essential purposes, as defined by Scottish Government guidance, including for welfare reasons.
If you do need to travel for essential purposes and will be changing households during the break, make sure that you access a Covid-19 test before departure and after arrival. Please see below for more information on testing arrangements.
Returning to residences
Many members of our student community returned to a different address, such as their parental home, over the winter break and, in line with lockdown restrictions, have not returned to campus this year as they continue to engage with their studies remotely.
We are aware that some students may wish to return to our halls of residence in the weeks ahead as restrictions begin to ease. You are asked to bear in mind that even after 17 May, we anticipate that campus access will remain limited for some time yet, and much of our learning will continue to take place online.
As a community, we want to do everything we can to limit the spread of coronavirus, and this includes limiting the number of people travelling between locations.
We are therefore asking that you ensure you follow the latest Scottish Government advice before changing household. Under current stay at home restrictions, a person must have a ‘reasonable excuse’ to leave the place where they are currently living. Restarting in-person tuition or a placement is a reasonable excuse, as is travelling to resolve circumstances that are significantly detrimental to a student’s health or their learning. Travel to take up or resume living in term-time accommodation for reasons related to welfare or wellbeing is also likely to be a reasonable excuse.
Travel solely to take up residence in term-time accommodation without some other factor such as the start of face-to-face teaching, essential placements or serious wellbeing or safety reasons, is unlikely to provide a reasonable excuse.
Students should not return to accommodation on a temporary basis to collect belongings. If students need to access resources or materials related to their studies, they should contact firstname.lastname@example.org to see how best this can be supported.
If students’ learning materials are critical to learning and there is no alternative way to learn then a one-off exceptional collection of materials from accommodation may take place.
If you fall under any of these categories and wish to return to University-owned residences in Ayr or Paisley, you should contact the residences team directly (email@example.com) to book a slot so that your return can be co-ordinated safely with appropriate measures in place. You should not arrive at UWS residences unannounced or without a pre-arranged slot.
When your programme is due to move to face-to face delivery you will be contacted in good time by your programme leaders.
Classes which are returning to face-to-face delivery will, of course, have arrangements in place for students who can’t, for whatever reason, make it back to campus. Your course leaders will be in touch with more information.
If you are permitted to return to term-time accommodation under the current guidelines, you should take a Covid-19 test before departing your current accommodation.
You should request a free PCR test through the UK-wide existing arrangements. When booking a test, you should answer ‘No’ to all questions until you reach the question: ‘Why are you asking for a test?’ This question should be answered by selecting: ‘My local council or health protection team has asked me (or someone I live with) to get a test, even though I do not have symptoms.’
If your test is negative, you should travel to your term-time accommodation within 48 hours. If it is positive, you must not travel and should follow existing self-isolation guidance.
While we don’t require proof of a negative test, we strongly encourage you to participate to help stop the spread of the virus.
On your return to campus, you should also arrange for two lateral flow tests, three to five days apart, as soon as possible. The University continues to offer asymptomatic testing at our Ayr, Lanarkshire and Paisley campuses. You can book your test, and find out about arrangements for London and Dumfries, through the University website. Community Testing Sites are also available.
Where a return to term-time accommodation is necessary in line with the legal restrictions as outlined above, you will be asked to minimise the risk to yourself and others in your term-time household by voluntarily reducing your social mixing for 10 days before and 10 days after the return. This means going out only for essential reasons including learning, food shopping and exercise. The current lockdown restrictions in effect already require this reduction in social mixing. Students who require support to do this should contact the residences team (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss how they can be supported.
If you are changing household over the spring break for essential reasons, you should access a lateral flow test prior to departure through a Community Testing Site or the University’s testing facilities. Again, this will require two tests three to five days apart.
If you are returning to term-time accommodation, you should access a PCR test, following the instructions above, followed by two lateral flow tests when you arrive back on campus, three to five days apart.
Returning home for the year
If you are currently living in residences and your studies have concluded for the year, you are permitted to leave your accommodation and change addresses. This will be classed as essential travel.
If you are moving out for the year, please contact our residences team (email@example.com). Restrictions may mean that you may have to collect your belongings at a later date – the residences team will be able to advise based on your circumstances and timings.
Students changing households should take two lateral flow tests before leaving, as above, provided you are not displaying any symptoms of Covid-19.
If you do need to travel for essential reasons in the weeks ahead, please familiarise yourself with the latest safe travel guidance from Transport Scotland.
If you do return to campus in the weeks ahead, we’re asking that you make sure that you’re playing your part in helping to control the spread of Covid-19. This includes:
Thriving Learners survey
UWS is supporting a Scotland-wide study on student mental health to better understand what you need to enhance and promote your wellbeing.
We are working with Mental Health Foundation Scotland which has created this survey so we can all learn from your experiences.
By taking part, you will help inform new initiatives to support students to live mentally healthy lives. The evidence collected by this survey is vital to inform change in services within universities.
Anyone participating in the survey has a chance to win a voucher prize in a prize draw. Three students from this university will win either £75 (x2) or £50. Share your views and experiences to help make a difference at smartsurvey.co.uk/s/thrivinglearners.
Your health and wellbeing continues to be our priority. If you are facing any wellbeing or welfare issues, we are here to support you, so please let us know if we can help by contacting the University at firstname.lastname@example.org, where we have colleagues ready to provide support.