Students in Scotland get a consistent core of support

Universities Scotland has launched something called a "Consistent Core of Care" for students during the pandemic.

But is it a “consistent core”?

The first four commitments are all about support for student self-isolation. We’re talking checking-in “very regularly” on students/student households that are self-isolating, the provision of food supplies and other basic provisions whilst quarantining or isolating, cleaning equipment and laundry support.

It effectively takes the promises made by Glasgow at the weekend and extrapolates them around the country – although it does leave out the “have some rent back” bit.

In some cases, it says, washing materials are provided, in others a supply of fresh bedding and towels is available, or a laundry service – as well as good internet access to ensure students can access learning and support online and connect with family, friends and their student peers.

But here’s the problem. Those commitments on self-isolation in the “consistent core” are only “consistent” if you happen to live in university-operated halls.

The briefing doesn’t even mention support for students in private halls, in HMOs or that commute. So in other words it’s the diametric opposite of “consistent” support. It’s also not clear what is meant by “university-run” halls – some look, sound and smell like university-run halls, but are in fact operated under often opaque arm’s length nominations agreements.

The other ten points in the core are for all students, but aren’t much more than mood music that you would expect to be in place whether there is a pandemic on or not. Involvement of student reps in decision making, focus on mental health, student services accessible online, social / entertainment and relaxation events and activities for students, digital poverty and promotion of hardship funds.

Generally it’s bad enough that the media thinks all students live in halls. It’s worse, arguably, that the collective universities body in Scotland reinforces that. And will Universities UK now follow suit, given Gavin Williamon’s assurances to the house yesterday?

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