Stay safe

Male student wearing tartan facemask gives the thumbs up sign.

Health and Safety in a post-coronavirus world.

Alongside Health and Safety and SafeGuarding, every team and facility are working hard to make the safety of students our number one priority. From the Oriam’s phased re-introduction of classes, to new click and collect and online payment options at food and drinks services, to Accommodation Halls preparing for international arrivals and self-isolation, every part of your student journey has been designed with safety in mind.

Keeping you safe on campus, through the three W’s:

  • Wash your hands: With hand-sanitiser stations around campus.
  • Wear a face covering: Following the latest Govt Guidelines, we have created a number of face covering zones; ready to change and adapt according to the latest Govt guidelines. While a personal hygiene pack will be provided for certain groups, we do recommend that you bring your own face covering and never travel without it. See our guidance on face coverings below.
  • Watch your distance: Following the latest Govt guidelines, all communal areas have been designed with social distancing in mind; with one-way systems and signage to help guide you.

Quick Guides

Student Quarantine on arrival

Dealing with suspected COVID cases related to Student (living off campus)

Dealing with suspected COVID cases related to Student (living on campus)

Concern about symptoms/contact with others

If you have any concerns about symptoms or contact with others please contact SafeGuarding through SafeZone or on 0131 451 3500

Heriot-Watt University Global Community COVID-19 Pledge

During the coronavirus pandemic it is more important than ever that we act in a way that demonstrates our mutual respect for one another, consistent with our University’s values.

Together we will act in a way which demonstrates consideration and respect for those within and beyond the University community by following Government and University guidance related to reducing the spread of COVID-19.


SafeGuarding Officers on site 24/7 and the SafeZone App is available at all campuses.

  • SafeGuarding officers are available to help all staff and students on campus 24/7, 365 days a year
  • SafeZone App available for students and staff. Download the App and, wherever you are in the world, our SafeGuarding team will support you. Once the alarm is raised, officers can with you within 4 minutes

Face coverings – Guidance for UK Campuses

You must by law wear a face covering

  • when sitting stationary and 2m-distanced for timetabled in-person teaching or sitting in an individual office
  • when eating or drinking and sitting stationary at a catering outlet
  • within a research lab where risk assessment control measures are in place that supersede the benefits of a face covering or if wearing a face covering in the lab would exacerbate other risks
  • when carrying out individual exercise within Oriam (as directed within Oriam)

In all other scenarios, such as moving within buildings and using study spaces face coverings must be worn, with sunflower lanyards available for any staff or student who cannot wear coverings.

Physical distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene are the most important and effective things we can all do to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The wearing of face coverings must not be used as an alternative to any of these other precautions.

There is evidence that face coverings have some additional value, especially in crowded and less well-ventilated spaces, and where 2m distancing is not possible.

What is a face covering?
A face covering can be a covering of any type, except a face shield, that covers the mouth and nose. It is recommended that it be made of cloth or other textiles and should be two, and preferably three layers thick, and through which you can breathe. Religious face coverings that cover the mouth and the nose count as face coverings for these purposes. Transparent face coverings which assist communication for those who rely on lip reading and facial expressions can also be worn.
Face shields (typically a clear plastic visor) may be used, but only if they are worn in addition to a face covering underneath, as the evidence shows that they do not provide adequate protection.
If you are unable to wear a face covering, a face shield (or visor) can be worn as it does provide a limited level of protection.
How will I know where to wear a face covering?
We have determined which areas of our campus require face coverings to be worn and these are clearly marked as Face Covering Zones. Face coverings should also be worn in the following circumstances (except where someone is exempt from wearing a covering): 
  • in corridors and indoor communal areas (including toilets) as well as other areas of campus where 2m physical distancing cannot be guaranteed
  • in line with the current arrangements for public transport, when travelling on public and dedicated university transport
Face coverings are not generally required when seated in classrooms or other learning and teaching environments as long as physical distancing is maintained, but may be required in some situations based on risk assessments appropriate to specific circumstances.
These rules are subject to change and their use may have to be increased on the recommendation of the Incidence Management Team or where the University determines, following consultation, that this is appropriate.
Anyone wishing to wear a face covering anywhere on campus is permitted to do so if it is safe (for example for some work in laboratories the wearing of face coverings would not be safe).
Do I have to wear a face covering?
You may have a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering if, for example:
  • you have a health condition or you are disabled, including hidden disabilities, for example, autism, dementia or a learning disability; you are providing care for someone with a health condition or disability, and a face covering would be inappropriate because it would cause difficulty, pain or severe distress or anxiety to the wearer or the person in the care of the wearer; or because it is not physically feasible for you to apply a covering and wear it in the proper manner safely and consistently
  • you need to remove the face covering to seek medical assistance; to avoid injury, illness or escape the risk of harm; or to eat or drink
  • you are taking medication for which it is recommended that you do not wear a face covering
  • you are communicating with someone else who relies on lip reading and facial expressions to communicate
  • you are exercising
What about the Student Residencies?
Face coverings should be worn in some parts of student accommodation where 2m distance from people from another household cannot be guaranteed. This includes corridors and some shared facilities such as laundries and common rooms. Face coverings are not essential in kitchens and bathrooms shared by multiple households, where other mitigations including 2m physical distancing and enhanced cleaning and personal hygiene measures are in place.
Face coverings should not generally be required when people are interacting face-to- face with others within their household, for example in a cluster flats or other private space.
Travelling to and from Campus
A face covering must be worn by all passengers and staff or operators in the following settings:
  • train services including the Glasgow subway
  • bus services and the Edinburgh tram
  • taxi and private hire vehicles
  • bus stations, railway stations (including open air stations) and airports
  • ferry services (unless the ferry is open to the elements and physical distancing can be achieved, or the vessel is large enough that physical distancing can be achieved)
  • airline services
If necessary, the police have enforcement powers including issuing fines of £60 (halving to £30 if paid within 28 days) if members of the public do not comply with this law without a reasonable excuse
How to put on, remove, store, and dispose of face coverings?
  • Face coverings should not be shared with others
  • Every time you apply or remove a covering, it is important that you wash or sanitise your hands first and avoid touching your face
  • Make sure the face covering is the right size to cover the nose, mouth, and chin
  • When temporarily storing a face covering (e.g. during classes) it should be placed in a washable bag or container and you should avoid placing it on surfaces, due to the possibility of contamination
  • If a face covering becomes wet or soiled when you are using it, it should be replaced immediately with a clean one
  • Re-usable face coverings should be washed after use. Machine wash on the highest setting suitable for the fabric, preferably 60 degrees centigrade
  • Face coverings should only be hand washed if a washing machine is unavailable. For hand washing, lather face coverings for at least 20 seconds using warm to hot water before drying ideally putting in a dryer
  • If your face covering is not reusable, you should dispose of it safely in the general waste bin
  • Disposable face coverings and gloves cannot be recycled
What do I do if I have forgotten or damaged my face covering?
The University has a small contingency supply that can be made available in these circumstances.
Face covering exemptions
If you spot someone carrying a sunflower lanyard, please be aware that they have a hidden disability and have a good reason not to wear a face covering. This includes:
  • A health condition where a face covering would cause difficulty, pain, or severe distress or anxiety
  • They cannot apply a covering and wear it in the proper manner safely and consistently
  • They need to communicate with someone else who relies on lip reading
For the full list of exemptions, please visit the Scottish Government website.

NHS University Health Centre

The NHS University Health Centre on our Edinburgh campus is open to all students living on campus or in the Edinburgh area, and there is no waiting list. Make sure you register as soon as you can on your return. Please note, that testing for Covid-19 will not be run through the Health Centre.

Protect Scotland

The Protect Scotland app from NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect is a free, mobile phone app designed to help us protect each other, reduce the spread of coronavirus and avoid further lockdowns.

The app will alert you if you have been in close contact with another app user who tests positive for coronavirus. And if you test positive, it can help in determining contacts that you may have otherwise missed while keeping your information private and anonymous.

Using the Protect Scotland app, along with sticking to current public health measures, will help us to stay safe when we meet up, socialise, work or travel.

Arriving safely

  • International students: For those arriving to our Edinburgh or Galashiels campus from countries that are not green listed by the UK, there will be accommodation blocks dedicated to students who need to self-isolate for two weeks, with a starter food pack and PPE pack provided. Please ensure you let the accommodation know your arrival date and time so they can prepare.

For more information see Arrive Safe.

Socialising safely

  • Food and drink services and social spaces have new safety measures, online payment service, click and collect options, extra cleaning services and compartments for social distancing.
  • The Student Union now also have click and collect options for food and drink, along with online payment options and an online booking system for tables with breaks between slots to enable full cleaning and sanitising between customers.

For more information, see our Be Social page

Return to fitness

  • In line with the latest Scottish Govt guidelines, Oriam (Scotland’s Performance Centre) re-opened its doors on 31 August 2020; with a phased re-introduction of classes on our Edinburgh campus, a new pre-booking system online, signage and one way systems, cleaning services and new seating layouts in Bistro and other communal areas.
  • If you are joining us from online using the Responsive Blended Learning model, follow @Oriam on social media for more info on staying fit from wherever you are in the world.

For more information, see our Be Active page

Keep an eye on this page for more updates on health and safety on all our Scotland based campuses over the coming weeks.

For more details on study spaces and facilities on campus, as well as our new Responsive Blended Learning model, see Study Safe.

Read the latest guidelines from Scottish Government

We look forward to seeing you! Stay safe, and don’t forget we are here to support you, every step of the way.