Aberdeen University students face being booted off the campus unless they follow a strict set of guidelines designed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The thousands descending on the Granite City to begin or resume their studies will have to sign a pledge promising to do everything they can to protect locals and fellow students from harm.
The “Covid campus pledge” urges students to understand that they “have a social responsibility to help fight Covid-19”.
They will also be asked to declare they “understand they have a duty to support the fight against Covid-19 more generally and specifically in local Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire communities”.
The students must pledge to follow all guidance issued by the government, especially concerning higher education, follow all signage and staff requests at the university and to “be kind and considerate to others, especially those enforcing the requirements”.
They must also “speak up if they notice anything wrong” and understand that, by refusing to follow any reasonable guidelines or directions, their “ability to access campus may be stopped and appropriate disciplinary action may be taken”.
In a further effort to stem the spread of the virus, students have been told their Freshers Week celebrations – which would usually involve opportunities to meet others and join societies, as well as some rowdy trips to city nightspots – will be taking place entirely online.
Starting today, the “digital welcome week” will include quizzes, Q&A sessions and opportunities to speak with university representatives.
Alongside the virtual celebrations, a large portion of teaching is also scheduled to take place online through a blended teaching model to keep campus activity to a minimum.
Vice-principal for education, Ruth Taylor, said: “We have had the chance over the past few months to prepare for blended learning and will see limited numbers of students and staff across the university campus.
“Absolutely anything that our students need will be available for them online, students will be encouraged to go home once their campus-based sessions have finished to continue their studies.”
It is thought that only around 20% of the students usually seen on campus will be there at any one time.
Meanwhile, societies and clubs have also been given the go-ahead to plan virtual outings but have been told not to meet up face-to-face.
Radeen Moncrieffe, vice president for communities at the institution, said: “Due to many sports teams practising with more than six people, each from different households, we have taken the decision to ask for no face-to-face events in line with current guidelines.”
SNP councillor for Old Aberdeen, Alex McLellan, said: “I am sure new and returning students will be excited ahead of the new term, and while it is disappointing that due to Covid-19 they won’t be able to participate in freshers week in the usual way, it is important that everyone sticks to the rules in order to minimise the spread of the virus.”