Categories
Coronavirus Education Social Security Universities

Support for Students in Hardship

£30 million of additional funding.

Students experiencing hardship as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) will be supported by £20 million of Scottish Government funding.

A further £10 million has also been allocated to universities and colleges for income lost in providing rent rebates.

To complement the additional £30 million, the Scottish Funding Council is also repurposing £5 million of student support funding towards discretionary funding for FE students in the college sector.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“The impact of the pandemic on students has been significant. Not only has there been disruption to their education, we know that many students face financial difficulties with accommodation, associated costs or challenges in getting jobs. This additional £20 million will help to alleviate the financial pressure and stress facing many of our students.

“We are also supporting institutions, many of which have lost revenue by giving students rent refunds or rebates, with an additional £10 million.

“This announcement builds on the £37 million package of support the Scottish Government has already provided to support students during the pandemic.”

Matt Crilly, President of NUS Scotland, said:

“NUS Scotland welcomes this crucial support from the Scottish Government at a time when students are struggling. We know many of the traditional sources of student income have been decimated during the pandemic, so it is a relief to know there will be additional funding for those experiencing hardship.

“This support is essential in helping Scotland uphold its commitment to fair access to education. While Scotland has made important advances in recent years towards widening access to further and higher education, the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities and threatens to erode this progress. This funding helps ensure we are not only supporting students from all backgrounds into education, but also helping them stay in education.”

Shona Struthers, chief executive officer of Colleges Scotland, said:

“We welcome any additional funding to support college students across Scotland at this incredibly difficult time. Many of our students are learning from home and with additional financial hardship caused by the pandemic – we are sure that the much-needed additional funds from Scottish Government will prove beneficial to students during this lockdown period. Colleges Scotland will work on behalf of the sector to highlight ongoing challenges.”

Background

Details on how this £20 million assistance for students will be distributed will be confirmed shortly.

More information on the support available for students is available online.

Categories
Coronavirus Education Health Universities

Guidance for Students Returning Home

Plans for mass testing of asymptomatic students.

Students travelling home at the end of term will be able to take voluntary coronavirus (COVID-19) tests through their college or university from next Monday.

As part of a number of measures to support a safe return home, students are also being asked to take extra care in the period leading up their departure, only going out for essential purposes such as learning, exercise and food shopping. This is to minimise the number of contacts they have with others and reduce the potential for spread of the virus.

Updated guidance has now been published for students on minimising social contact, testing and end of term travel – whether to other parts of Scotland, the UK or the world.

Minister for Further and Higher Education Richard Lochhead said:

“Our priority is to ensure that students who wish to go home at the end of term can do so while keeping themselves, their families, friends and communities safe.

“We are asking that students continue living at their term-time accommodation for now and minimise any opportunity to pick up the virus by limiting themselves to only essential reasons to mix with others.

“Voluntary testing will also be available from next Monday. This is part of a huge UK-wide effort by colleges and universities to test asymptomatic students before they leave their term-time accommodation.

“I want to thank all students for their tremendous resilience and patience this academic year and I know that they will continue to do all they can to stay safe and ensure a happy reunion with their loved ones.”

NUS Scotland President Matt Crilly said:

“The introduction of mass testing for students and staggered departure dates are warmly welcome and will be a relief to many students and families across Scotland allowing students to return home safely this winter.

“But we now have our part to play and so I’d strongly encourage any student moving household over the holidays to plan ahead and get tested if you can.”

Professor Gerry McCormac, Convener of Universities Scotland, said:

“Students who intend to return home this Christmas should take the test for people without symptoms as soon as possible. The test is quick and free and the results are available fast. The tests are a helpful extra step to take to keep your family and friends and the wider community safe from COVID-19 this Christmas. A double negative result will give you more confidence to travel home but it doesn’t change the need to practise personal safety measures; wear a face covering, avoid crowds, keep two metres distance and wash your hands regularly to minimise your risk.

“This has been a challenging term for students and I want to thank them for their continued vigilance against the virus. I also want to put on record my thanks and admiration for the staff involved in making these testing centres a reality as well as those who will be working in them. To have these testing centres open so quickly is a testament to our dedicated staff as well as the partnership approach across colleges and universities to ensure that as many students as possible get tested.”

Background

Universities and colleges will be utilising lateral flow devices (LFDs) – a clinically validated swab antigen test that does not require a laboratory for processing and can produce rapid results within half an hour at the location of the test.

Students will be offered two LFD tests, spaced three days apart which are bookable through their college or university. Those receiving two negative results will be encouraged to safely return home as soon as is practical after the second result.

If either of the lateral flow tests returns a positive result, the student will be asked to self-isolate and undertake a confirmatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test through the usual NHS Test & Protect channels.

Colleges and universities will have specific information for students on the care and support that will be available for those who are either not returning home, or who are having to self-isolate.

FAQ on the student testing programme and returning home

Guidance on how to travel safely

Categories
Coronavirus Education Universities

Dundee’s Universities Set to Benefit from £75m Covid-19 Funding

One-off Scottish Government payment to help mitigate financial effects of COVID-19.

The Scottish Government has announced a one-off £75 million increase in funding for Scotland’s universities to ensure they can protect their world-leading research programmes against the financial impact of COVID-19.

The significant intervention will help secure the jobs and training needed to support ongoing and future research work, meaning institutions can concentrate fully on planning the long-term future of a sector so vital to the Scottish economy.

Universities will also be expected to adapt and use their own resources, as well as the packages of support for businesses provided by the UK Government, to counter the effects of the pandemic on research operations.

The new funding will replace lost research income, protect research jobs, and help universities focus more effort on the high priority research needed to fight the outbreak and to support society and the economy, post COVID-19.

Richard Lochhead, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, has now written to his UK Government counterpart Michelle Donelan, Minister of State for Universities, calling for a UK investment and support package for Higher Education (HE), including additional financial support for universities, to ensure they and their graduates can continue to play a key role in the UK’s economic and social recovery from the pandemic.

Scottish university income has been significantly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, most notably by a loss of international student income, cancelled conference bookings, and returned accommodation fees. Recent Scottish Funding Council (SFC) analysis indicated Scottish universities face a loss of around £72 million due to COVID-19 this academic year alone, with a collective operating deficit of between £384 million and £651 million forecast for next academic year.

The Scottish Government is working with the SFC and the sector to mitigate the current issues across the range of university activities including research, supporting teaching excellence and student well-being.

“Our world-renowned university research activities are under threat from COVID-19, from a loss of university income to the risk to jobs and investment.  That research is critical to Scotland’s future public health and prosperity. So we are investing now to protect our research sector’s excellence, with £75 million of additional funding, as we plan together for the future sustainability of Scotland’s society and economy as a whole.

“We are taking a partnership approach, talking to the universities and staff unions, as we build up our response. For the universities’ part, they are stepping up with a willingness to use part of this investment to support PhD students whose studies have been impacted by COVID-19.  

“Now we need the UK Government to join those efforts. So far, their main interventions have been focused on the HE sector south of the border. We need the UK Government to take a UK approach and join with Scottish universities and the Scottish Government to build a support package that will protect the sector from the impact of this virus.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP

The additional funding will be administered by the SFC.

“This is very welcome additional funding for research in Scotland.  We will work closely with the sector to ensure it helps universities continue with vital research, including the response to COVID-19, and contributions to our subsequent recovery.” 

SFC Chief Executive, Karen Watt

“We welcome the Scottish Government’s recognition of the role research and innovation will play in supporting business and industry and strengthening our post COVID-19 economy and society.

“The pace of this commitment, and the injection of confidence it will give the research community within the sector, is very welcome.

“We will work closely with Government and the Scottish Funding Council to ensure this resource has the most impact, including support for our PhD students, who are our pipeline of talent for future research and who have been adversely affected by the instability created by the pandemic.”

Universities Scotland Convenor, Professor Andrea Nolan

Background

The additional money is research capital funding. University research is classed as capital in the current 2020-21 Scottish budget.  The details of the allocation to individual universities will be subject to consultation with the sector by the Scottish Funding Council. 

A number of PhD students will have their work interrupted by, as examples, the closure of laboratories or the inability to pursue fieldwork owing to COVID-19.  This intervention will give universities additional resource to respond, for example, by offering financial support to a student to extend a project once their practical work can recommence.