Perth College will begin its new term on the usual autumn start date - but no graduation ceremonies will be taking place in 2020.

The University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) made the announcement that higher education students would begin studies on September 7.

UHI also disclosed that blended learning will be implemented using a mix of on-campus and at-home teaching in line with Scottish Government public health guidance.

The university partnership, which delivers education to learners in Perth and Kinross as well as the Highlands and Islands and Moray, will combine video conferencing and remote learning technologies with face-to-face teaching where possible.

The move was agreed by all 14 principals of the University of the Highlands and Islands partnership, including Perth College’s principal Dr Margaret Cook, at a meeting last week.

The decision to conduct no graduation ceremonies, either in person or virtually, during 2020 was agreed between the university partnership and the students’ association (HISA).

Safety plans in place as Perth pub prepares for relaxing of lockdown

In response to the announcement, a Perth College UHI spokesperson said: “We have worked with the Highlands and Islands Students’ Association (HISA) to agree that there will be no graduation ceremonies, either in person or virtually, during 2020.

“Students who finish their courses this year will still receive official confirmation of their awards from the awarding body, with higher education students having their awards conferred and graduating in absentia.

“We still wish to mark our graduates achievements and will be in touch to invite students to special celebratory events when it is safe to do so.

“The format and timing of these events will be determined in due course.”

Professor Crichton Lang, the university’s principal and vice-chancellor, added: “We have been developing and delivering our courses to students across our partnership and the world for over 20 years, connecting our students and our communities.

“We have established proven ways of learning through technology and delivering an active and personalised experience to our students who are supported through our university partnership of colleges and research institutions.

“We will continue to draw on this experience and knowledge to deliver courses in the autumn term using our blended approach to teaching.

“This includes using video conferencing, inventive remote learning technologies and some face-to-face teaching where it is safe and important to do so.

“We will be working hard to share our existing expertise, knowledge and practical learning to enhance the delivery of all courses across further and higher education, while still adhering and adapting to changing government guidelines.

“Our priority is to provide a safe learning environment for all of our staff and students.”

The UHI group is planning to organise events for 2021 which will enable graduates and guests to celebrate when it is safe to do so. Applications for courses starting in September, 2020 are still welcome.