Students ‘shouldn’t be at university unless necessary’

The NUS is concerned about students welfare amid the pandemic as they return to campus.

Students ‘shouldn’t be at university unless necessary’ Getty Images

Students leaders have called for online learning to be the ‘default’ position for universities as students begin to return to campus.

Undergraduate students at the University of Edinburgh headed back to campus on Monday as part of the previously agreed staggered return of students.

But the National Union of Students (NUS) criticised the uncertainty for students and said they shouldn’t be on campus “unless absolutely necessary”.

Universities Scotland called for urgent clarity from the government about changes to restrictions around in-person and online teaching following new lockdown restrictions.

NUS Scotland president, Matt Crilly, also called for rent rebates for students paying for accommodation they are unable to access.

Mr Crilly said: “NUS Scotland continues to call for online learning to be the default position.

“That way no student has to be on campus unless absolutely necessary and every student can make an informed decision about whether they want to return to their student accommodation.

“Students are being expected to pay rent for at least six weeks for accommodation they can’t use.

“That is grossly unfair.

“We are seeking urgent clarity from the Scottish Government and universities to ensure no student is left out of pocket and that every university has a no-detriment policy in place, so no student is academically disadvantaged.”

The Scottish Government has previously said rent is a matter for universities.

A spokesman for Universities Scotland said: “We are seeking urgent clarity from Scottish Government about what changes they plan to the staggered resumption of in-person teaching, in the light of the changed prevalence of the virus in society.

“We want to give students as much certainty as possible and any student who is currently unsure about what to do should contact their university for their latest guidance.”

The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.

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