Coronavirus information and guidance

Semester 2 teaching

Last updated: 26 April 2021, 10.15am

Arrangements for remainder of semester

Following consultation with student representatives and staff at St Andrews, and in line with Scottish Government guidance, we have taken the difficult decision that teaching and assessment for the majority of our students must remain online only for the remainder of this semester.

We have taken this decision reluctantly, to offer certainty to our community as early as possible, to reduce the numbers of people travelling during the pandemic, and in the expectation that substantial Scottish Government restrictions will remain in place for the rest of this term.

There will be a small number of exceptions to the policy of online-only teaching and assessment.

The following students will have dispensation to be on site because in-person teaching, practical classes or research projects are integral to their studies:

  • Students in the School of Medicine on the BSc Medicine and ScotGEM programmes who are designated key workers.
  • Some postgraduate research students
  • A small number of postgraduate taught and undergraduate science students in the following modules whose practical course requirements mean that remote learning is impossible. These students will be advised directly by their Schools when they should be available for in-person teaching, and in most cases that will not be before 5 April:
    • CH3521
    • CH4421
    • ES3004
    • ES3006
    • ES3007
    • ES4001
    • ES4013
    • ES4011
    • ES5099
    • ES5051
    • PH3101

These arrangements are fully in step with Scottish Government Level 4 guidance, and support the national effort to prevent transmission of Covid in our communities. 

What does this mean?

You should not return to St Andrews, unless you are in one of the exempt categories above and have been contacted by your School with confirmation that in-person teaching will be taking place on your course this semester.

If you are not in an exempt category listed above, there will be no in-person teaching in St Andrews for the rest of this semester.

If you are one of the small number of students asked to return for in-person teaching or practical classes, we will give you at least two weeks’ notice of a date to return. In most cases that will not be before Monday 5 April.

Why is this necessary?

Scotland has been in effective lockdown since 28 December 2020 and remains under the most restrictive levels of Covid guidance.

It is very unlikely that Government restrictions will lift sufficiently to allow the vast majority of our students to return to in-person teaching in St Andrews this semester.

Travel and the mixing of households are two of the biggest risk factors for the transmission of Covid. Scottish Government policy is strictly to limit travel within, and into and out of Scotland. Travel restrictions are likely to remain in place for the rest of this semester and beyond.

We want to give certainty as early as possible to our students and staff, and allow them to plan their work and study, without concerns about when or if they may have to arrange to be in St Andrews.

We are desperately sorry not to be able to welcome most students into the classroom in St Andrews this academic year, but we are taking this step in the certainty that we can fulfil all students’ learning outcomes, and continue to provide our hallmark high quality of learning, contact, and support online.

Who should I contact if I have questions about my course?

Please contact your module co-ordinator if you have any questions about your module or the way we will deliver teaching for the remainder of this semester.

If I have to return for in-person teaching, are the classrooms safe?

Yes. We know from last semester that our classrooms are a safe, fully risk-assessed environment for teaching, and that there has not been a single instance of Covid being passed on in class, a laboratory, or any educational setting.

The decision to remain online for the rest of semester for most modules has been taken to limit travel and people changing households, which are both major risk factors for spreading Covid, not because St Andrews itself is an unsafe environment.

We have every confidence that if you are being taught in-person in St Andrews this semester, our labs, classrooms, and study spaces are amongst the safest places you can be.

The levels of Covid in St Andrews and North East Fife remain very low. We publish a regular update on the numbers of confirmed Covid cases in our community.

Do I have to come back if asked to?

No. All students can, if they wish, register to study entirely online for part or all of Semester 2, via MySaint. There is no longer a requirement to submit any evidence, although students must be able to meet the IT pre-requisites set out in the policy on studying online. The only exception to this is students in the School of Medicine who have had separate communications.

Please be aware, however, that in some cases, if you have been asked to come back but choose not to return, it may not be possible for you to complete your learning outcomes if these are reliant on in-person and practical teaching which cannot be delivered wholly online. In such situations, your School will arrange for these learning outcomes to be met through alternative arrangements later in your studies.

Can I still access Library resources?

Wherever you are, the Library is available to support you online and in person. 

The Scan and Deliver service can email chapters and articles direct to your inbox. If a book forms part of your module reading lists, a digital copy will be available via Library Search

If you require research materials for essays or dissertations and need the whole book, please contact the Library and ask for help with this – there are a range of ways that Library staff can help you access the material you need. 

For those of you in St Andrews, Click and Collect can be used to order books and other print items. Last semester, almost a third of Click and Collect requests were for items that had already been digitised and made available through Reading Lists or were available as ebooks, so please check these before ordering. If you are still unable to access the material you require, please contact the Library. 

Study space capacity is currently limited because the University is required to operate withing Government restrictions for coronavirus mitigation, and we also have to take care of our staff and make sure we can deliver the Scan and Deliver and Click and Collect services. However, we know there is increasing demand for study space, and are working hard to open up additional space as soon as safely possible. 

Please make use of the services available to you on the library catalogue, including the online ‘Chat’ support. The Library website has all the latest service information and updates are posted regularly along with information on study spaces and resources on social media. Library staff are on hand to help you with enquiries and support, and to make sure you have the essential resources you need in this difficult year. 

I am already in St Andrews, what should I do?

Please make sure you’ve read and understand the new lockdown rules and consider carefully how they will apply to you in St Andrews.

The Scottish Government has said that students who have remained at university over the Christmas break or who have returned to university since the break, should stay in their term-time accommodation and should not try to go home, unless in exceptional circumstances. This includes any plans for travel in the Spring break.

Travel remains one of the most important risk factors for spreading Covid, and you should avoid it if at all possible.

We will continue to do all we can to look after any student residing with us in St Andrews and we will do our best to provide you with the support you may need.

Can I come back to St Andrews if I don’t have any in-person teaching?

The laws and guidance covering the return of students to universities in Scotland are made by the Scottish Government, not the University.

Under the current Scottish Government law, students can only return if it is for what is deemed as a ’reasonable excuse’.

If you have been asked to return for in-person teaching, the University’s invitation to you to return can be used to provide evidence that you have an essential purpose to travel to St Andrews and therefore a reasonable excuse.

It is the responsibility of each individual student to know the current law and guidance and, if necessary, to provide proof of a reasonable excuse to legal authorities if you are challenged.

Under the current law and guidance, the Scottish Government says that students may return to live in their term-time accommodation for the following reasons:

  • If you have been told by the University to return because in-person teaching is due to resume on your course.
  • If you have a serious wellbeing issue which means you are in danger, your health is at risk, or it is impossible for you to study remotely where you are.

The Scottish Government has said that travel simply and solely to take up your term-time accommodation is unlikely to constitute a reasonable excuse.

If you have not been requested to return for in-person teaching, please do not ask our Covid Helpdesk, Student Services team or other University staff to give you permission to return or to provide you with proof of a reasonable excuse.

The Scottish Government has published further Information and FAQs for students on the Student Information Scotland website.

Will my rent be refunded if I do not return to St Andrews this semester?

If you wish to give up your contract without returning to St Andrews please let Student Accommodation know and they will process a full refund. You can still book a slot to collect your belongings or take advantage of the free packing and storage service offered by the University.

However, if you return to your student accommodation, your fees will be charged from the date you return.  If you leave again prior to the end of the contract, we will be applying a 28 day notice period and you would only be entitled to a refund after that notice period had passed.   This is to reflect the normal end of term arrangements.  Please ensure that when you leave, you take all your belongings with you or arrange storage at your cost.

If you are currently living in your student accommodation and give up your contract after the 26 April 2021, we will be applying a 28 day notice period and you would only be entitled to a refund after that notice period had passed.  This is to reflect the normal end of term arrangements.  Please ensure that when you leave, you take all your belongings with you or arrange storage at your cost.

If you live in private accommodation, you can ask your landlord for a refund on the basis that the Scottish Government has restricted travel and the University has asked you not to return.

We have no powers to compel private landlords to offer a refund, but we encourage all landlords to be as flexible and understanding as possible in relation to full or partial refunds, and the complexities of shared tenancies.

Most of my stuff is still in St Andrews, what should I do?

The Scottish Government has encouraged students to avoid travel and not to return to term-time accommodation to retrieve their possessions if at all possible.

An exception to this guidance is at the permanent end to a tenancy, where return is permitted to collect possessions, if alternative arrangements cannot be made.

If you have a place in University accommodation, we will keep your room and your possessions secure until the end of semester, even if you have given notice to cancel your contract. If you are unable to return at the end of semester, we can provide details of packing, storage and shipping services. Full details will be provided in future in our Accommodation FAQs.

If you are in private accommodation, we encourage landlords to be flexible and to support you to avoid travel if at all possible.

I have nowhere to live in St Andrews but need to come back for teaching, can you help? ?

Yes. We will be able to provide you with a room in a University hall of residence if you have been asked to return for in-person teaching. Please contact our Student Accommodation Services Team.

Can I take a Covid test in St Andrews?

Yes, and it is strongly recommended that all students take two Covid tests. This applies to anyone returning to St Andrews, and all those who stayed with us over the Christmas break.

We are providing free Covid tests to all students at our University Testing Centre in St Andrews. The Asymptomatic Test Centre at the Sports Centre reopened on 11 January 2021 and is for the use of all students.

The Covid test booking system is available via the MySaint portal and is open for bookings now. As before, you are required to book two tests, three to five days apart.

If you require advice or support in using this service, please contact the Covid Rapid Response Team. If you have Covid-19 symptoms, you must not book any asymptomatic tests. Please contact the Covid Helpdesk if you are experiencing symptoms. 

What is the advice for international students?

The Scottish Government says that international students should stay at home and not travel to Scotland, unless asked to return by their university.

You must however follow Scottish Government advice on travel and quarantine requirements:

  • You must show proof of a negative Covid test before boarding. The test must be taken no more than three days before your departure, and must be “highly reliable”, which in practice means a PCR test.
  • From Monday 15 February 2021, all international travellers to Scotland must go through ten days of managed quarantine on arrival, at their own expense.
  • Managed quarantine is mandatory and will be provided at designated hotels close to the main Scottish airports.
  • Travellers will be charged £1750 to cover the costs of the quarantine, which includes a requirement to take two Covid tests after your arrival, in addition to your pre-departure test.
  • If you are due to travel to Scotland from Monday 15 February, you will be asked to use an online portal to book your designated quarantine hotel. The portal will be open for bookings from Thursday 11 February.

We recognise that this recent development may cause concern and questions for some of our overseas students who face having to pay substantial fees for mandatory Scottish Government hotel quarantine.

Please contact our Covid Helpdesk for information about the ways in which we may be able to support you.

What is the advice for postgraduate research students?

The current advice is that postgraduate research students can, if they wish, return to university and undertake research within the limitations of Scottish Government guidance. Students should contact their supervisors concerning research that can be undertaken on their projects in the current circumstances.

Will the University be providing a travel service again from airports and rail stations?

Yes. If you are asked to return to St Andrews, we’ll be providing special bus transport for you from Scottish airports and local rail connections to ensure you get to town safely. See details of this travel service and how to book.

Are there restrictions on socialising and other activities?

Yes. The emergence of new Covid variants is a serious development which has necessitated the rapid introduction of new laws and restrictions to public behaviour in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK.

Under these new laws, it is an offence for you to enter another household or socialise with anyone from another household indoors. You may meet one other person from another household outdoors as long as you remain two metres from them at all times.

Put simply, this means no parties or socialising in groups beyond the people in your own household, under any circumstances.

If you break this law, you can expect to be prosecuted. Regrettably, some students have been charged by Police Scotland with Covid-related offences in relation to illegal gatherings in St Andrews this semester.

As in Semester 1, the University may take its own disciplinary action against you if you break the Covid Code, with sanctions ranging from fines to expulsion.

We deeply regret the fact that these new laws and restrictions are necessary, and we are acutely aware of how much they will affect the St Andrews student experience in the short to medium term.

The more of us who stick by the rules, however, the sooner we can return to the freedoms of university life which we value so highly.

Will this decision affect graduation?

After careful consideration, the University has taken the difficult decision to cancel in-person graduation ceremonies planned for June 2021. However, the Vice-Chancellor and the Deans will confer degrees virtually during the week beginning 28 June 2021.

For further information, please refer to the graduation web pages.

What should I do now?

If you are not in an exempt category, you should prepare for all teaching and assessment to be online for the rest of this semester.

If you are in an exempt category, your School will contact you to tell you when you should plan to come back. You will be given at least two weeks’ notice of a date to return, and in most cases that will not be before 5 April.

Please continue to check your University email regularly, and the University’s main social media channels on Facebook and Twitter.

If you need further information, advice or support, please contact our Covid Helpdesk or Student Services Team, or talk to your module coordinator.

Contact details here for Student Services and Covid Helpdesk:

Student Services

The ASC (Advice and Support Centre)

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2020

Student services

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2720

Covid Helpdesk

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 4146

Out of hours (between 9pm and 9am) contact the Security and Response Team on +44 (0)1334 46 8999.