Covid fines imposed for second year

Students studying at the University of Edinburgh this year have once again been required to sign a Covid-19 related code of conduct in order to matriculate.

The ‘Good Citizen Guide’, in addition to the university’s normal ‘Code of Student Conduct’, gives the university the power to fine, suspend or expel students for breaching the university’s Covid-19 restrictions.

Current Scottish Government guidance stipulates that face coverings should be worn “where required” and that people should “avoid crowded spaces” and “follow physical distancing guidelines”. 

However, this guidance is not legally binding, and the reopening of nightclubs on the 9 August has enabled people to gather indoors in large numbers without legal repercussions. 

All Covid restrictions at the university are currently enforced by Student Disciplining Officers and the Student Disciplining Committee through the implementation of various penalties. 

A fine of up to £50 is in place for students who fail to wear face masks when required, fail to follow the one-way systems put in place, or fail to observe social distancing when outdoors on campus.

Students face a second repeat fine of £150 if they fail to comply with these rules again.

If a student living in university-owned accommodation hosts or attends a gathering which exceeds permitted numbers, or they ignore self-isolation rules, they risk being terminated from their accommodation and could have their access to university facilities suspended for up to three months.

Students who cough, spit, or make physical contact with an individual (or threaten to do so), as well as those who repeatedly violate restrictions, could potentially be suspended for up to 12 months, or face permanent exclusion.

According to the most recent data, 1,162 cases of breached guidelines were reported by 31 March 2021. 

Fewer than five students were permanently excluded as a result of breaching guidelines (this number is not specific in accordance with GDPR). 

The actual figure is likely to have increased since March 31.

Every student at the University of Edinburgh was required to acknowledge and agree to the above rules in order to matriculate, although they may not have been aware of the specific penalties in place.

A third-year student told The Student that they were unaware of the penalties in place, adding that:

“Guidelines are meant to be optional, so this is really misleading. 

“I don’t mind if they want to have extra precautions in place, but it needs to be clearly communicated that they have strict expectations that aren’t optional.”

Students from both Edinburgh Napier University and Heriot-Watt University have told The Student that a similar Code of Conduct specific to Covid-19 is not in place at their universities. 

This means that the University of Edinburgh is possibly the only university in the city centre which requires its students to agree to a set of rules specific to Covid-19 in order to matriculate.

Image credit: Good Citizen Guide, University of Edinburgh