Corporate Travel Management

– in the Scottish Parliament on 9th September 2021.

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Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

4. To ask the First Minister what discussions the Scottish Government has had regarding the functioning of Corporate Travel Management. (S6F-00211)

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

The managed isolation service in Scotland is operated under a United Kingdom Government contract, which places responsibility for setting the quality and levels of service on the UK Government. The Scottish Government’s international passenger co-ordination team is in regular contact with Corporate Travel Management, which is the UK Government’s travel agent, and we continue to work with them to ensure a high-quality service for travellers.

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

As we are all aware, the situation is very distressing and costly for students who come from red list countries. I put on the record my thanks to the universities for stepping in with practical help.

Of course I appreciate that CTM was tasked by Westminster, and I understand the relationship with the Scottish Government’s international travel co-ordination team, which liaises with the CTM Westminster arm. Has there been any positive response? Are we any further forward for students who are anxious to start their courses?

The First Minister:

I very much agree with Christine Grahame’s comments about international students. We always want to offer a warm welcome. They make a significant cultural, economic and intellectual contribution to our universities and, indeed, to the whole country, and they are welcome here.

Scottish Government officials have been engaging directly with universities on the issues that are highlighted in the question. They have contacted CTM, which has said that it is addressing those issues as a priority. My officials will continue to work with the universities to improve processes.

Students should, of course, contact their universities if they continue to experience issues with the booking system.

In recognition of the difficult circumstances that international students have faced, the Scottish Government has also taken steps to put support in place. For example, international and European Union students can apply for financial hardship support from the Scottish Government’s higher education coronavirus discretionary fund.