Students at Scottish universities could work from home after Christmas instead of returning to halls of residence in a bid to reduce the spread of Covid.

SNP ministers will urge higher education institutions to offer more remote learning after a wave of infections spread through student accommodation in September.

It's estimated that at least 10% of all positive Covid tests in Scotland since September 19 have been from students.

A surge in coronavirus outbreaks was recorded after halls of residence in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee opened their doors last month - forcing tens of thousands of students to self-isolate when the new academic term began.

Opposition parties criticised the Scottish Government for failing to deal with a spike in the virus that was described as "entirely predictable".

University bosses insisted in the lead-up to the new term that student accommodation was safe.

It was later revealed that many universities had filled their accommodation to normal capacities - a move critics was more about raising cash than prioritising safety.

Now guidance published by the Scottish Government suggests "restricted blended learning" will be pushed next term.

Under the new plan, academics say that there is no reason why a student from England could not remain at home while studying in Scotland, The Times reported.

The revised government guidance states: "We will learn lessons from the start of the 2020-21 academic year looking at the formation of student households, how student accommodation is used, and student compliance as part of a safe experience while at, and returning to, campus."

Among a "package of options" being considered is a proposal to increase "the amount of online learning before term ends in December and when the new term starts in January.

A spokesman for Universities Scotland told the paper: "Universities are already offering restricted blended learning and we expect that to continue for institutions in Level 3 areas of Scotland."

Education secretary Swinney last week said it was a “priority” that students are able to go home for Christmas and he was working with other UK nations to ensure that does not result in a spike in Covid-19 cases.

He told the BBC’s Politics Scotland programme: “Some of the points that we’re looking at are around staggered returns of students so that they don’t all come back in one go, that we look at arrangements for how testing can be part of the architecture of how we handle that return.

“What we expect of students when they are returning home and when they’re coming back into universities and how they will spend their time, how their learning will be undertaken – these are all issues that are being explored.”