An “army” of students has been praised for stepping up to help classmates at Robert Gordon University (RGU) get home safely for Christmas.
Around 60 people at RGU signed up to staff a Covid-19 test centre within its Garthdee campus in the weeks leading up to the festive season.
Students wanting to head home for the holidays were being advised to take two tests before they left, travelling within a day of the second test.
By doing so, they had reassurance they wouldn’t spread coronavirus to their family, or any others they may mix with.
The project was run by Laura Chalmers, the university’s strategic lead for collaborative and inter-professional practice, and director of student life Filippo Antoniazzi
Ms Chalmers said: “These students were working for the benefit of their fellow students, treating this work very much like a healthcare placement and trying very hard to ensure it is a positive experience for people who wanted to come for testing.
“They have been an integral part of the test centre, showing a huge drive for quality.
“Their willingness to collaborate and learn and share their expertise – while gaining clinical experience and vital transferable skills – was so heartening to see.”
Many universities across the country opened up similar Covid-19 testing facilities in the run-up to Christmas, including at Aberdeen.
While dozens of students signed up to help at RGU since the opening of the centre last month, just 25 were needed for each “shift”.
They were supported each day by academics who remained on site to offer advice and support.
Additionally, they had been encouraging the students to get to know one another to foster a positive working environment.
Ms Chalmers added: “A main strategic driver of the university is collaboration – and the students are doing that seamlessly with us and with each other.
“I know they are supporting this essential project and the value they bring to the operation is huge.
“We are very proud of them; they have been asked to do a job they have never done before.”
Michael Third, a third year sports science student, said: “This was such a valuable experience, working in a professional clinical environment like this may help me in my future career.
“The whole site was really safe and quick and we were working hard to ensure people felt comfortable and safe.
“Students being tested were in and out in around six minutes and they could have their results within the hour directly from the NHS on their phone.”
And second year midwifery student Georgia Wallace said: “I feel like I have built confidence and have learned so much – we were all learning from each other and our peers every shift.
“It feels great that what I was doing was helping other people, helping students get home safely.”
She added: “It’s nice to have a bit normality in these difficult and uncertain times.
“If you have been struggling with mental health or anxiety, then it really helps to get involved with things like this to meet new people and broaden your friendship groups.
“We are all doing that here, while gaining really valuable experience.”