Online learning, travel, accommodation, timetable, libraries and testing

Online learning, travel, accommodation, timetable, libraries and testing

Dear Student,

We hope you are coping as best you can with the latest restrictions. With the start of term approaching, we will update you regularly on how restrictions are impacting on University activities and what these mean for you. Today we can let you know the following:

Online learning

The Scottish Government made a further announcement today regarding the postponement of the return of colleges and universities – you can see details here.  As a consequence, except for some exemptions (e.g. Medicine, Dentistry), on campus teaching for most areas will not resume until at least the end of February, and there is a risk that this could be extend into March. 

We are therefore writing to confirm that for the first 5 weeks of the second half session, from 25 January until 26 February teaching will be online only. Any very limited exceptions to this will be notified directly to you by your School.

The situation will be reviewed and communicated to you mid-February in the light of national guidance, and you will be given at least two weeks’ notice before any switch to on campus teaching. As previously, students will be able to complete their learning online, even if we are in a position to provide some additional on campus teaching in due course. If you are concerned about being able to participate in online learning, don’t hesitate to contact, or for IT related matters.

Travelling to campus

The basic message to students remains that you should not return to term-time accommodation unless and until you are notified that on campus teaching will be resuming for you.

Current Scottish Government advice is that travel can only take place in exceptional circumstances or where there is a reasonable excuse. Otherwise, there is a risk of committing a criminal offence.

A reasonable excuse would be in the very limited cases where on campus teaching has recommenced, or to address such issues as mental health concerns or parental estrangement. You should not travel to Aberdeen for other purposes, e.g. to collect belongings from term-time accommodation at this time unless the circumstances where you are mean that you are unable to study there.

Travel simply and solely to take up residence in term-time accommodation without some other factor - such as the start of on campus teaching or being unable to participate in your degree where you are currently - is unlikely to provide a reasonable excuse for travel.

University halls of residence

As we mentioned in our message to you earlier this week, students who are asked to delay their return to University managed halls of residence beyond the start of term on 25 January will be entitled to a rent rebate for the period between 25 January and their return to the halls of residence.

If you are here already, please remember that we are here to support you.

Private halls of residence & private rentals

Advice and support for students living in privately operated student accommodation is available here. You can also email if you need further advice support.


MyTimetable will now open from 18 January. This is a week later than our original date of 11 January, which gives us time to make timetable adjustments in response to the latest Covid-19 restrictions.


The Sir Duncan Rice Library will open on Monday 11 January between 10am and 5pm and these will be the opening hours for the first week. Hours of opening will be reviewed regularly in line with national guidelines.

A limited amount of non-bookable study space is available within the Library, but in line with safety guidelines the bookshelves are currently taped off and books can only be accessed through the click and collect service.

The Taylor Library will be closed due to Covid safety restrictions, however ‘physical’ books and journals will be available through the click and collect service.

Discussions are still underway regarding opening of the Polwarth Library. 


Just a reminder, our centre for testing students with no symptoms of Covid-19 opened again on 7 January.  If you are returning to Aberdeen, you are strongly encouraged to book two tests – three days apart.  Remember you can book your test in advance of your return and must receive one negative result before engaging in any on campus activity. Book your test here.

If you have arrived from a country which requires you to quarantine, testing does not remove your need to self-isolate and you should not book a test date which is during your 10-day isolation period.  

Travel to the UK

As outlined, online learning will be the default at the current time, so you should consider, if you are not already in the UK and have not yet booked your travel, staying in your home country and accessing your learning from home to start with.

If you decide to travel to Aberdeen, you are required to take a Covid-19 test up to 72 hours before leaving the country you are in and show a negative result. This has been announced by the Scottish and UK Governments and more information is here. This negative test does not remove the requirement to quarantine in your accommodation for 10 days following your arrival. There is support available for students during quarantine. See the full guidance here.

Winter Wellbeing Toolkit

You can find all kinds of support, helpline details and wellbeing advice here

Other updates and advice

While we had hoped to operate in-person support services – student hub / registration venue – from Elphinstone Hall, this will no longer be possible due to new restrictions. However, all of our services continue to operate online and more details can be found on the Student web pages. You can also download the UoA Student Guide which contains all of the essential details in one helpful application. For any other enquiries, please email

You can see updates on the new term here and all our student updates are found here.

Anything not answered in these pages – which will be updated regularly – can be directed to

You can also email if you need further advice or support and can help with IT issues.

While this is not the start of term that we had hoped for, and we know the situation will be disappointing for many of you, we do look forward to welcoming you back to your studies. We will do all that we can to support you in these circumstances and will be back in touch with more information as soon as we can. In the meantime, please stay safe.

Best wishes

Ruth and Debbie

Professor Ruth Taylor  Debbie Dyker
Vice-Principal (Education)  Director of People

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