Shetland’s MSP Beatrice Wishart has today written to the Education Secretary, John Swinney, to ask him to address an anomaly in guidance for students that currently prevents islanders returning home in the same way that those on the mainland can.
Extra measures were imposed on the student population last week after a series of COVID-19 outbreaks across university campuses. Students who moved to attend university are now considered to be a “new household”, and as a result are not allowed to return home.
This has been partially rolled back, with guidance published over the weekend offering a “reasonable excuse” defence for those who need to travel home. This extends to students who are self-isolating, but states that public transport should not be used.
Ms Wishart has now written to the Education Secretary to point out the obvious problem this creates for students from the isles, and to ask that island students are fully considered in guidance going forward.
Commenting, Ms Wishart said:
“These problems were entirely predictable, and have been on the horizon for months. Scottish Liberal Democrats have been asking for a plan of action throughout the summer.
“Given that any travel to or from the islands would involve a flight or a ferry, it looks as though islanders have once again been an afterthought.
“I have asked the Education Secretary to update the guidance to provide a safe route for students for the islands to be able to return home, just like the rest of the population, and this needs to happen urgently. It will be crucial that islanders are fully considered as the government comes up with plans for the Christmas period. They have to be able to make use of the same rights as the rest of the student population.”