The Consistent Core of Care for students package is made up of 10 measures, three of which are aimed at students who find themselves needing to self-isolate or quarantine in university-owned accommodation in order to limit the transmission of the virus.
“We have a duty of care to our students to look after them both physically and mentally”
Some 19 Scottish universities and higher education institutions have confirmed that they will be offering the package. Many of these institutions have already agreed to exceed the minimum expectation of care offered to students.
Announcing the scheme, Gerry McCormac, convener of Universities Scotland said that student wellbeing is always the number one priority of universities.
“This has never been more important than now, as we all experience a new spike in this pandemic. We have a duty of care to our students to look after them both physically and mentally, and we take that very seriously,” he said.
McCormac explained that it is hoped that the package will provide greater clarity to students and their loved ones.
The measures in the support package seek to make support available to students who are isolating or in quarantine, to support students living in university-owned accommodation and to support students who are adjusting to a different model of study and wider student experience this semester.
Institutions have committed to regularly checking-in with students who are self-isolating in university-owned accommodation and to assisting that students’ needs are met around food supplies and basic provisions when they are in university accommodation.
The universities are also providing cleaning equipment and that those isolating in university-owned accommodation have laundry support.
All students in student accommodations are connected to the internet so they can access learning and support online and connect with family, friends and student peers.
“Front line staff in our universities and in the halls of residence have risen magnificently to the challenge of supporting students in these difficult circumstances,” McCormac said.
“They are key workers in the fight against this virus. University leaders will continue to work closely with staff and student representatives to ensure that these commitments are delivered.”
A further six commitments are aimed at helping students adjust to new methods of teaching delivery and to improve their student experience.
These measures give specific consideration to student mental health, wider wellbeing and the issue of digital poverty.
The package of measures includes promotion of hardship funds for students, extra support for those in digital poverty and the inclusion of student representatives in how universities respond to outbreaks.
As the representative body of Scotland’s universities, Universities Scotland will continue a regular dialogue with NUS Scotland to understand what additional action may be required to support student wellbeing as the situation with the pandemic continues to evolve.