The survey also found that 40% of students felt they didn't understand how the process of lateral flow testing worked.
A survey conducted by The Glasgow Guardian has found that 49% of students are not planning on getting the lateral flow Covid-19 tests offered by the University this winter. The survey questioned 100 students about their plans for journeying home over the festive break.
Of the students surveyed, 88% said they are planning on travelling home for Christmas. A further 40% of students felt they didn't understand how the process of lateral flow testing worked.
Earlier this month, the Scottish government announced they would be implementing a mass Covid-19 testing scheme in an effort to get students home for Christmas. It is estimated that up to 80,000 students will be travelling home for the winter break, with many moving across different tiered areas. The widespread testing has been introduced to control possible outbreaks.
The lateral flow testing is due to take place at the University of Glasgow between 30 November and 11 December. Students at the University of Glasgow and Glasgow School of Art will be eligible to receive the tests, as long as they do not have Covid-19 symptoms or have tested positive for the virus in the last 90 days. Students also must not have been identified as having been a close contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. The testing scheme will utilize a new rapid test currently being used in Liverpool, which delivers a Covid-19 test result in 15-20 minutes. Students will need to take two tests, three days apart. If both tests are negative, students will be allowed to travel. If either test comes back positive, students will need to isolate for two weeks before returning home.
Some students have already begun the process of the lateral flow testing. Tara Gandhi, a fourth-year Politics student, has already had the first of her two tests, with her second happening later this week. She told The Glasgow Guardian, "I'm getting the test because I worry about passing it on unknowingly, and it's a long train journey home for me, so I could be a risk. Also, if I have a negative test that I can show to my parents, that will put them at ease, so I don't have to isolate in my bedroom." She complimented the University's running of the system: "My first test has come back negative, and I got my result in under an hour after completing the test. I was in complete shock at how efficient the system is." However, there have been concerns about the accuracy of the test. A study by Public Health England's Porton Down laboratory and the University of Oxford suggests that the sensitivity of the test dropped from 79% to 58% when it was used by self-trained members of the public rather than the scientists. The largest academic union in the UK, The University and College Union (UCU), has also expressed its concerns to The Observer about the testing system, labelling it a "recipe for chaos".
Although the testing has been extended to 11 December, the winter exam diet will last until 18 December. Madeline Pritchard, a final year Philosophy and Computing Science student, is planning on getting tested, however, she hopes to delay her test as late as possible since she doesn't plan on travelling home until 20 December: "I've got a big essay and a deadline for my final year project on the 18th so I have to be in Glasgow until then! I'm travelling by train which seems like a likely place to catch the virus, so I'm not sure how helpful doing the test before I go is but I figured I should do it anyway." She added: "Personally, if I had exams, I wouldn't want to do them at my parents' house or to travel in the middle of them." Madeline plans on isolating as much as she can in the period between her second test and her departure home, but is unsure how effective this will be when her flatmates will still be going to work.
Others have made the decision to not get tested at all. The most frequent reason why students were planning on not getting a test was because of other commitments they had in Glasgow beyond the last day of testing. Holly Ellis, a final year History and English Literature student, falls into this category, as she has made the decision to not get a lateral flow test before going home for Christmas. Whilst she praised the system for being incredibly helpful to students who are in university halls or planning on leaving before the 11 December, she added: "I think the University needs to take into account that the term doesn't finish for all students on the exact same date and that other students reside in Glasgow almost year-round. Having the lateral testing extended for even a week or two after the original dates could make a massive difference for students who are unable to travel until the later part of December." Holly's last deadline isn't till 18 December and she will be in the library frequently between the end of the testing period: "This means there is still a week before I visit my elderly relatives - as my parents live abroad - where I could catch Covid-19 and be unaware, even if my lateral test comes up negative the week prior. It makes more sense for me to go get an NHS test right before I leave Glasgow."
Currently, there have been no plans announced by the Scottish government for how students will return to campus' following the Christmas break.