Return to campus, visa advice and funding for quarantine costs, vaccinations

Student message, June 25

This week’s update from the First Minister confirmed the intention of a further easing of Covid-19 restrictions to take place on Monday 19 July, subject to a review that will take place the week before.

This would see all local authority areas move to Level 0, meaning:

  • Physical distancing outdoors will be removed and physical distancing for indoor public areas will reduce to one metre if the data allows.
  • Limits on outdoor gatherings will also be removed given the reduced risk of outdoor transmission at this stage in the vaccination programme.

There is an intention of further movement on Monday 9 August that will remove legally enforceable level restrictions and lift all physical distancing requirements, albeit we expect basic mitigation measures such as the use of face coverings to remain. Again, this will depend on a review to take place the week before.

This is clearly good news and signals a return to normality as we look forward to welcoming you to campus in the next academic year.

Return to campus

Planning for undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, learning and assessment is well underway for 2021/22, with Schools taking forward their plans for the delivery of your education.

An overview of how we expect the next academic year to look was provided in our last update, and our preparations will continue to be based on Scottish Government guidance and in line with whatever restrictions are in place when the new academic year starts. 

Your safety and wellbeing continue to be our primary concern, but we want you to be able to enjoy, to the fullest extent possible, the social and educational benefits that an on-campus experience can provide.

We continue to encourage as many students as possible to return to campus for the next academic term, where it is possible for you to do so. We understand that some students will not be able to make it here, due to travel restrictions and other potential factors, and the University will continue to support you as it has over the past year.  There is further information in the section below for international students with Student or Tier 4 visas who are coming to Aberdeen.

For those who can return our expectation is that you do so. Your time at University will be significantly enhanced by an on-campus experience and we look forward to seeing you back on campus if your circumstances allow.

For students studying in Qatar, we are currently awaiting advice from the Ministry of Education on the prospects of a return to campus, and you will be updated separately as soon as this becomes available.

International students – visa, vaccination, and quarantine advice

Based on current guidance issued by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), Student or Tier 4 visa holders will be required to come to Aberdeen at the start of the new term to ensure they comply with the conditions of their visa. As a reminder, our first half-session teaching starts on Monday 27 September, with Welcome Week commencing on Monday 20 September.

Our expectation is that all students with a Student or Tier 4 visa should plan to be in Aberdeen for the start of the next academic year, or by the end of the registration period at the very latest, albeit we recognise the possibility that travel restrictions may in some cases prevent this – in which case your visa sponsorship will be withdrawn in accordance with UKVI regulations. In those circumstances we will support you in a new visa application for a January 2022 start. In the coming weeks we will be updating our Immigration and Student Visas advice pages with details of how and when to complete a visa check as part of registration for academic year 2021/22. We also recommend visiting the UK Council for International Student Affairs website as a source of external advice.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government recently announced that the vaccination programme in Scotland has been expanded to include all international students. By travelling to Aberdeen our overseas students become part of our local community, and we are delighted that the Scottish Government has provided this assurance. 

Discussions are continuing with the Scottish Government on quarantine arrangements for overseas students, with the current understanding being that students from amber list countries observe quarantine in their home – whether that be University halls, purpose-built student accommodation, or private accommodation.  The University will fund quarantine costs for new and returning students resident in countries on the red list so that this is not a barrier to students joining or re-joining us in Aberdeen.

Vaccinations

The roll-out of the national vaccination programme continues, with all adults expected to have had their first doses by 18 July, and to have their second by 12 September.

Vaccinations are key to our way out of the pandemic, and while an individual choice, it’s really important that you take up the Covid-19 vaccine when invited to do so, as you can get seriously ill with coronavirus at any age.

While having the vaccine doesn’t eliminate the risk of coronavirus, if you and your loved ones have it, it will reduce the impact of the virus and help us get back to the things we’ve all missed.  You can find further information at NHSinform

Community Testing

A reminder that students with no symptoms of Covid-19 can attend the Community Testing Centre at our Butchart Centre on University Road twice per week for a lateral flow test.  All students attending on-campus activities are encouraged to attend for regular testing and you can book here.  We also remind you that you can pick up free Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test kits from the venue for home testing.  

Graduations

Finally, a quick reminder that all students who are eligible will formally graduate between 5 and 9 July with online ceremonies taking place between 19 and 23 July.

Students whose in-person graduation ceremony has been cancelled due to the pandemic will have a chance to attend a celebratory event in the future when we are able to deliver an event with no risk of cancellation. 

To those who are graduating, we want to pass on our congratulations and best wishes for the future – you have achieved so much this year in exceptional circumstances, and we are proud of you and all that you have achieved.

Thanks for your attention and we will keep you updated with new information as it becomes available.  While it is the summer break, there are still some students who are being taught over the summer and we are here to support them and all our students.

We continually update our FAQ pages which provide further information and support, and if you have any questions that are not answered there please email coronavirus@abdn.ac.uk

Best wishes

Ruth and Tracey

Ruth Taylor
Vice-Principal (Education)

Tracey Slaven
University Secretary and Chief Operating Officer