Coronavirus information and guidance

Covid tests for students

The University of St Andrews is working with the Scottish Government to provide free asymptomatic Covid tests for all students who return to St Andrews in Semester 2.

It is strongly recommended you take the test as young people in particular are likely to have no symptoms but are still able to spread the virus to others.

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?

The Asymptomatic Test Centre at the Sports Centre re-opened on 11 January 2021, ready to deliver tests to all returning students. The 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. 

Our testing centre is housed in the University Sports Centre, St Leonard’s Road, St Andrews.

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 the following for registration purposes:

  • student identification card
  • email address
  • NHS/CHI number (if you have it).

Please note: do not eat or drink anything for at least 30 minutes prior to your test.

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 others. It is not, however, an absolute guarantee that you do not have Covid.

Will it provide evidence that I am 'fit to fly'?

The test 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 if you are travelling. 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 take two tests, at least three days apart, and ideally not more than five days apart, to have the greatest level of confidence that you are not infectious with Covid when you return to 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. This means that they do not pick up every infection that would be detected by a PCR test. This is why we recommend two tests, three to five 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.

Who is eligible for a test?

The test is open to all students enrolled at St Andrews. If you have stayed in St Andrews during the inter-semester break, you are still encouraged to book your tests.

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

What if I don’t want to take a test?

That is entirely your decision. Whilst we do very strongly recommend it, particularly given the increasing prevalence of the new variant of Covid in the UK, the test is voluntary.

I need to quarantine when I arrive in Scotland. Should I still take a test? 

Yes, it is still recommended that you are tested. However, you must not attend the Test Centre while quarantining and should only take a test once your period of quarantine (currently 10 days) has been completed. Please not that Scotland does not participate in the 'Test and Release' scheme.

I'm a commuter student. Should both LFD tests be taken in St Andrews? 

We have arrangements with a number of other Universities to allow students to be tested at their facilities. Please contact the Covid Helpdesk for advice. 

For medical students, at least the second test must be in St Andrews (or Dundee for ScotGEM), and evidence of both tests must be sent to

I have been vaccinated against Covid-19. Should I take a test? 

Yes, vaccination does not negate the need for quarantine if indicated by travel or testing before return to face to face teaching. Whilst there is evidence that the vaccination protects against severe disease, it is not 100% effective, and there is no evidence to show that it protects against secondary carriage and transmission. 

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.

What happens if I test negative?

If you test negative, you will be notified of your result by text or email.

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