Scotland’s colleges and universities are gearing up for a phased campus return for the next academic year, as COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are gradually lifted.
Institutions suspended face-to-face teaching in March and since lockdown began, all learning has been online.
However, under the Scottish Government’s route map out of the coronavirus crisis, the third phase would see universities and colleges return next term.
Most are planning for an initial combination of digital and blended learning with public health measures, including physical distancing in place.
The Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Richard Lochhead, has written to the country’s college and university principals outlining the measures related to their institutions, as they prepare over the summer to welcome domestic and international students.
Mr Lochhead said: “Preparations are now underway for Scotland’s colleges and universities to have a phased campus return in the new academic year, with the safety of students and staff of paramount importance.
“While next year will undoubtedly be different, studying with our institutions will continue to be world class, attracting students from across the globe, and anyone thinking about studying in Scotland should apply without delay.”
His comments were echoed by education leaders, all keen to emphasise that Scottish institutions are open for business.
Shona Struthers, chief executive of Colleges Scotland, added: “Recruitment and application processes for the next academic year in the college sector are already underway, and a college forum has been established to explore how best our colleges can deliver for their learners and staff, including developing the curriculum to be delivered effectively online and remotely.
And Professor Andrea Nolan, Convener of Universities Scotland, said:
“Universities are working hard to adapt their arrangements so they can continue to offer students a high quality learning experience and wide range of support services in the autumn.
“Universities will confirm their individual start dates for next year as soon as possible; some have already done so.
“Next term’s teaching will include a flexible blend of digital learning and safe on-campus provision.
“Scotland’s universities have long been a beacon for students from all over the world and that is still an important part of who we are as a country. The Scottish Government will be working closely with the university sector to ensure that remains the case.”