Coronavirus information and guidance

Don’t take Covid home for Christmas - end of term rapid Covid tests

Information for students

The University of St Andrews is working with the Scottish Government to provide free asymptomatic Covid tests for all students planning to leave St Andrews over Christmas and the inter-semester break.

The tests are voluntary, but it is strongly recommended you take the test as young people in particular are likely to have no symptoms but are still able to carry the virus back to family or friends over the holidays.

This testing is only for people who do not have symptoms of Covid. If you are displaying symptoms or think you might have Covid-19, please contact our Covid Helpdesk or seek a test via NHS Test and Protect.

Please read the following information carefully before booking your tests.

When will the tests be available?

Our University Testing Centre will be open from Saturday 28 November to Friday 18 December 2020. It will be housed in the University Sports Centre, St Leonard’s Road, St Andrews.

Booking your tests

You will be able to book your tests via the MySaint student portal from 9am on Thursday 26 November, but not before that date and time. From 26 November, please log in to MySaint, follow the instructions on your homepage, and select the dates and times most suitable for you.

Tests must be booked in advance. You will not be able to attend the University Test Centre or receive a test there without an appointment.

Initially booking will only be available for appointments up until Friday 11 December. We will release further slots for the period from 12 to 18 December in due course.

We recommend that you should travel as soon as possible after your second negative test. The University is providing free travel to local airports and rail stations which you can book online.

Please note: You will not be able to cite a test appointment as a reason for missing an exam.

What do I need to take a test?

You should bring your mobile phone with you since you’ll use it during the test registration process. If you don’t have a phone, please don’t worry, our staff at the centre will be able to help you. You will also need your student identification card, an email address and your NHS/CHI number (if you have it) for registration purposes. 

Results will be sent via text message and/or an email using contact details recorded when you check in. The results will be communicated within a day of the test.

Why should I take this test?

It can help reassure you that you’re not infectious and are therefore unlikely to pass on Covid to your family and loved ones if you are going home over Christmas. It is not however an absolute guarantee that you do not have Covid.

Will it provide evidence that I am “fit to fly”?

It is intended to provide reassurance to you and your family and friends, but should not be regarded as “fit to fly” evidence and may not be accepted by travel companies and airlines as such. Please check with your travel provider what standard of proof they require. You may have to seek a separate PCR test from one of the various commercial, online or High Street providers.

What does the test involve?

The test is called a ‘lateral-flow test’. It involves taking a swab from your mouth and nose at a special testing centre and is self-administered under direction from our trained staff. The process takes just a few minutes. You will be notified of the test result by email or text within 24 hours by NHS Test and Protect, and possibly much faster.

The Scottish Government is recommending that you should take two tests, at least 3 days apart, and ideally not more than 5 days apart, to have the greatest level of confidence that you are not infectious with Covid before you leave St Andrews. If you can’t take two tests, one test can still provide a level of helpful reassurance.

How accurate is the test?

Lateral flow tests are less sensitive than the PCR tests used by the NHS. What this means is that they do not pick up every infection that would be detected by a PCR test. This is why we recommend two tests, 3 to 5 days apart. Repeated testing reduces the risk of a false negative result, and therefore reduces the risk of infecting others, although this does not eliminate the risk entirely.

Lateral flow tests are very specific, which means that only a very small proportion of people who do not have coronavirus will receive a positive result (false positive). However, in mass testing, because so many people without symptoms are being tested, there is still the possibility of getting a false positive result. Therefore, if you test positive on a lateral flow test, you will be asked to have a confirmatory PCR test to reduce the frequency of false positive results.

Do I have to isolate between my two tests?

We recommend that whether you are tested or not, you try to minimise your social mixing before you travel home to decrease the risks of picking up Covid before you leave.

Who is eligible for a test?

The test is open to all students enrolled at St Andrews. It is intended initially for those who are leaving St Andrews over Christmas and the inter-semester break. If you are staying with us, you can still take a test but we would ask you to consider those who need to be tested promptly to allow them to travel.

If you have previously tested positive for Covid, you do not need to take a test unless your previous positive test was more than 90 days ago.

If you are one of our students currently living in Dundee we are making arrangements with our colleagues at the University of Dundee to allow you to take a test at their centre. You are however allowed to travel to St Andrews to take a test here if you wish. You can book a test at the Dundee centre using this link.

Is everyone guaranteed a test?

St Andrews has been supplied with 15,000 tests by the Scottish Government. This should be enough to ensure that all our students travelling home over the break are able to take two tests before they leave.

What if I don’t want to take a test?

That is entirely your decision. Whilst we do strongly recommend it, the test is voluntary. If you don’t want to take a test but are travelling home at Christmas, we advise that you reduce your social mixing in the two weeks prior to your departure to minimise the risks of taking Covid back to your family or friends.

What happens if I test positive?

If you test positive you will be notified by email or text and may be asked by NHS Test and Protect to take a further type of test at the Victory Memorial Hall to confirm the result.

You should also contact our Covid Helpdesk and follow the guidelines for self-isolation, pending the result of your Test and Protect test. If your Test and Protect test is then negative we recommend that you travel as soon as possible after receiving your negative test results to minimise the risks of picking up Covid before you depart.

What happens if I test negative?

If you test negative, you will be notified of your result by text or email. We recommend that you travel as soon as possible, ideally within 24 hours, after receiving your negative test results to minimise the risks of picking up Covid before you depart. You can take advantage of our free University travel service.

Will the University be informed of my test results?

No. The test is personal to you. We will not be informed of your test results. However, if you test positive, please inform the Covid Helpdesk as soon as possible – they will provide guidance on self-isolation and can assist you in booking a follow-up PCR test with NHS Test and Protect at the walk-in testing centre at Victory Memorial Hall.

Lateral flow test results will be notifiable to NHS Test and Protect. Results will also be sent to your registered General Practitioner and Public Health Scotland.


Further information

Please contact our Covid Helpdesk for any questions about the St Andrews testing programme.

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 4146

The Scottish Government has also published a general guide to the student testing programme and measures to support a safe return home.