A union has hit out at “significant and growing” numbers of students in Aberdeen who are flouting Covid-19 rules.
The Aberdeen University Students’ Association (AUSA) has revealed there has been a “tenfold increase” in the number of disciplinary investigations compared the last academic year as a result of breaches of virus guidelines.
Student chiefs say there has been further action taken against students in the last week for gatherings and parties.
They also claim a number of people are under investigation for failing to comply with self-isolation rules – putting other students and staff at risk of contracting the virus.
Staff are reportedly fearful of their safety after witnessing blatant rule-breaches.
And now students have been issued a warning by AUSA amid fears vital university facilities such as the Sir Duncan Rice Library could be forced to close if they do not comply.
In a letter to all students, the committee of the students’ association said: “There is a significant and growing number of students not following the guidelines set by the Scottish Government.
“Worryingly, in just the past four weeks there has been a ten-fold increase in disciplinary investigations compared to the entire previous academic year.
“This number is also higher than in the past two years combined.
“More referrals for disciplinary investigations have occurred this week after reports of parties, in flats, halls and private accommodation, as well as other actions that breach the Covid guidelines.
“On top of that, a number of students have broken their own self-isolation, putting many others at risk while doing so.”
It is not yet clear how many students have been disciplined for breaking the rules.
The latest warning to students came just days after a cluster of cases, which led to more than 140 positive tests, was declared over.
The letter added: “It makes us sad to share this bad news with everyone, but it is important for us to have an open and honest discussion on how to work together to keep everyone safe, including both students and staff.
“We need to be honest about the situation and make sure everyone is aware of what is happening. The actions of the few have a significant impact on the rest of us.
“If the Sir Duncan Rice library were to close it would be a massive loss for us all. The library staff who are keeping the library open are dealing with an increasing number of students who are not complying with the code of conduct to ensure a safe campus environment for everyone.
“More and more breaches of the rules are witnessed and reported, resulting in many staff members and fellow students being worried about the risk they face when coming onto campus.
“If staff do not feel safe coming to campus, then the facilities may have to close.”
Aberdeen University is now facing calls to impose strict sanctions on those found to be breaking the rules.
Local councillor Alex McLellan, who represents the Tillydrone, Seaton and Old Aberdeen ward, said: “It is incredibly concerning to hear that AUSA are having to warn students that facilities may have to be closed if folk continue to not follow the rules.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has been incredibly challenging but everyone, including students, must ensure that they follow the rules or face the consequences – robust action must be taken against people who continuously break the rules and put the lives of others in danger.”
A university spokesman said: “The vast majority of our students have adhered to the government and University Covid-19 guidance and we are extremely grateful to them for that.
“Universities, like every other sector, have had to introduce a raft of new measures to help control the spread of the virus and as such it was always likely that we would see an increase in the number of breaches of our Code of Practice.
“Since the start of the academic year, a range of discipline matters relating to Covid has been progressed, ranging from repeated failure to wear a face-covering when required through to mixing with another household.
“We have implemented a wide range of measures in order to make our campuses Covid-secure and we continue to work in partnership with our student community to educate and inform about the need to adhere to government guidelines in order to protect others.”