MASS testing of students planning to head home for Christmas will begin at the end of the month at some Scottish universities.

The University of Edinburgh and the University of St Andrews have announced plans to offer the voluntary tests from November 30.

The Scottish Government is working with universities across the country and the UK Government’s testing programme to offer free lateral flow testing, which can provide results in 30 minutes.

Announcing plans for the testing programme at the Scottish Parliament last week, Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said students are being recommended to take two tests, five days apart.

Those with a positive result will then have the more sensitive PCR test, used in the main coronavirus testing programme, for confirmation.

He said the lateral flow tests will be offered on a “voluntary basis to all students who are returning home”.

Those who test positive will be asked to self-isolate, as will their close contacts.

Edinburgh University is urging students wishing to travel home in the UK for the break to get tested, particularly those with vulnerable family members or who plan to use public transport.

Two testing centres are being set up and will be open from 10am to 8.30pm from November 30 to December 9.

The university said timings mean even those who require to self-isolate should be able to return home “in time for the winter break” once isolation is complete.

The University of St Andrews is offering the tests to both students who are leaving for the break and those remaining in the town. It plans to open a testing centre in the university’s sports centre by November 30.