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Testing our patience – Edinburgh students unable to book Covid-19 tests

Following the Scottish Government’s announcement that they would utilise Covid -19 testing for the 60-80,000 students expected to travel home this Christmas, the University of Edinburgh announced plans for on campus testing. 

These plans were solidified in an email from Deputy Secretary of Student Experience Gavin Douglas yesterday, with testing centres located at the Pleasance Sports Centre and St Leonard’s Land. 

Students are required to book in advance to take two tests, ideally three days apart, between 30 November and 9 December.

This booking process, however, was not as simple as the email suggested. 

The booking system was plagued with difficulties, with many students unable to successfully book tests. 

Speaking to The Student, a third-year University of Edinburgh business student said: 

“I’m happy the university is offering tests but the booking system was very stressful, it took me about 10 attempts to get on it and then when I finally went to book a test, it wouldn’t work! I eventually got a booking but still haven’t managed to get a second one.”

Another student compared the process to “trying to book concert tickets for a big-name headliner”, whilst also questioning whether the University had properly anticipated student demand, especially as both the government and the University are strongly recommending that students get tested. 

The Student’s Association president Ellen MacRae, whilst appreciating the “huge task” that the University faced in setting up the testing system, also acknowledged and sympathised with the “frustration and concern this must’ve caused our students.” 

In a similar vein, a University of Edinburgh spokesperson said: 

“It is encouraging to see so many students looking to play their part to stop the spread of Covid-19. However, due to the high volume of initial enquiries, the booking system has experienced temporary technical issues.

“We are still waiting on confirmation from the University of how many tests they plan to make available.”

It should be noted that the website did acknowledge and apologise for the problems, assuring students that tests were still available. 

This appeared to be the case when the booking form was fixed for a short while this afternoon, before becoming inaccessible again. 

As of the early evening, access to the site appears to remain intermittent. 

Another email from Gavin Douglas was sent to students this afternoon, asking them to inform the university of their travel plans for Christmas. 

How students are expected to do this when the booking system for tests is still down, remains unclear. 

Image: Wikimedia Commons