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40 George Square to re-open

Monday 8 March saw the re-opening of 40 George Square to increase study space capacity for students.

This accompanies a temporarily increased quota for Study Desk bookings, from 20 to 30 hours per week. The re-opening of the tower follows ‘increasing demand for critical study space on campus,’ and will provide roughly 200 additional study spaces.

Students will be able to book these for a maximum of 2 hours, Monday to Friday from 10am to 4.30pm. Following the January lockdown, the University took the decision to keep the Main Library and the Outreach Centre open.

However, it informed students that, in line with Scottish Government guidelines, they ‘must stay at home and not use the library or study centres unless it is for critical purposes.’. As exam season approaches, The Student approached the University for further information about plans to reopen additional study space, in line with government guidelines.

A spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh told The Student: “The University is working hard to support students, and the safety and wellbeing of our community remains our paramount concern.

“We are working closely with Edinburgh University Students’ Association to monitor the usage of our study spaces and due to an increase in critical use, we have taken the decision to open 40 George Square.

“All other restrictions on study spaces – as stipulated by the Scottish Government – such as the need to pre-book, the need to wear face coverings, the two-metre social distancing rule and that the spaces should only be used for critical purposes remain in place.

“We do not have plans to open other study spaces until restrictions, such as the ‘Stay at Home’ order, are relaxed by the Scottish Government.”

Currently, the study space capacity on campus has necessarily been significantly reduced. The Main Library is open at reduced hours and capacity, while across the University’s campuses there are 1,035 study spaces in total for students to access. This is reduced from 1,743 during semester one.

A student expressed concern over the University’s handling of communications regarding plans to increase study space capacity. “Given that stay-at-home restrictions will be lifted on 5th April, you’d hope that they would be currently making and communicating plans to students about increasing study space capacity especially as we head into critical exam/end of term essay periods.

“However, the university has consistently demonstrated that communicating with students effectively is low priority, so it is no surprise that we are still in the dark about when and if we will have better access to study space.”

Currently, while they have no plans to increase study space capacity on campus as the Stay-at-Home message persists, the University’s website states that “the current assumption is that we may be able to add more spaces and open more libraries from the start of April 2021.”

Image: Enric via Wikimedia Commons