Students in the north-east have offered a mixed reaction to Scottish Government plans to ensure they can spend Christmas at home.
Young people will be advised to only go out for essential reasons and exercise for two weeks before going home for the festive break, Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said yesterday.
In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, Richard Lochhead outlined a coronavirus testing scheme that will be rolled out in universities across the country to support students leaving student accommodation as the semester draws to a close.
Between 60,000 and 80,000 people are expected to return home from university for Christmas, with all students being offered a new “30-minute” test for coronavirus before travelling.
Scottish students will also be included in a UK-wide initiative to test some asymptomatic students before the end of term.
Aberdeen University student Anttoni Numminen, 21, said the lack of clarity on how things will proceed in the next semester is the main challenge for him going back home to Finland.
The editor of the Gaudie student newspaper, who studies politics and international relations, was asked to return to campus for “blended learning” in September but all of his classes ended up being taught online.
He said: “My main concern is if the university changes its mind and I have to decide what to do with my booked flight, and whether I should stay home or return to Aberdeen.
“I hope that the government’s strategy is going to be implemented in a fair way that will allow students to go back home for Christmas, because it’s very important to see our support network and our families, and to take a break from everything that’s happening on campus.
“But also, in hindsight, the question is whether it was necessary to ask so many students to return to campuses in the first place, when there was so little face-to-face teaching, or none at all.”
Robert Gordon University student Clara Maurillon, 21, who is in her fourth year studying journalism, said she is not planning on going home to France because of all the coronavirus restrictions implemented in both countries.
She said: “There are rumours that the lockdown in France will be extended to the start of January, which means that even if I am able to go, I won’t be able to see any extended family or friends.
“And also, the travelling restrictions in place in the UK are very ambiguous and change every week so my concern would be to end up being stuck in France if I was to go back.”
Miss Maurillon’s fellow journalism student Katherine McPhillips, 25, called herself “fortunate” to have her family in Edinburgh but is still “wary” of going back home.
She said: “I come from a big family with two brothers and I also have my grandparents, who are still advised to stay in lockdown.
“So even if I can, I’m not sure whether I should go and put my family at risk this way.”
Explaining the new arrangement, Mr Lochhead added that universities will be asked to make any necessary adjustments to scheduling to allow “staggered and early departures”.