The number of university students expected to arrive from red list countries could exceed the number of hotel rooms available for the mandatory quarantine period, Nicola Sturgeon has been warned.
Following the First Minister’s statement to the Scottish Parliament about future coronavirus restrictions, Conservative MSP Liz Smith raised “very serious concerns” about the measures.
Ms Smith said there was fear among Scotland’s universities that incoming students impacted by the current travel restrictions are “likely to exceed the hotel quarantine allocation”.
She added that higher education institutions were concerned “this issue has not been addressed in good time”.
During her statement, Ms Sturgeon said it was “likely that some targeted restrictions” will be needed beyond the planned move to Level 0 “as new variants continue to pose the biggest threat to our progress”.
But she insisted that the Government hoped to “minimise further Covid disruption in the next academic term” and added: “We will also work over the summer to plan for the return of schools, colleges and universities.”
Ms Sturgeon said the Education Secretary would write to Ms Smith about the quarantine concerns, with existing rules requiring all arrivals to Scotland from red list countries to remain in a hotel for at least 10 days at a cost of £1,750.
She continued: “Universities also have an obligation to make sure that they have in place the services and support that international students need; obviously these are fee-paying students.
“We are also giving access to the vaccination programme for international students arriving here if they’re coming from countries where they haven’t already been vaccinated.
“These are issues that will be taken very seriously.
“We learned a great deal – not all of it good – from the experience of university return last year, and a lot of work is going on to make sure that the right arrangements are in place this year.”