UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was not ruling out the prospect of asking students to stay on campus over Christmas amid coronavirus clusters in university halls.
At the University of Glasgow, 124 students tested positive and more than 600 are self-insulating in all dorms.
In Dundee, 500 Abertay University students were asked to isolate themselves this week in student accommodation where three people tested positive.
Scotland’s national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch warned he was “very concerned” about the situation.
Liverpool universities have reduced the number of classroom hours on campus due to concerns about the coronavirus.
Students arriving at Liverpool Hope University this weekend who do not need dedicated classrooms will see seminars and tutorials go online due to social restrictions in the area.
John Moores University in Liverpool has also decided to put most of their face-to-face teaching online when the semester starts next week.
In an interview on Times Radio, Mr. Hancock was asked if students were being encouraged to stay at the university over Christmas.
He said, “We said that students should stay at the university until Christmas. We’re not ruling out the proposal you just made, but I don’t want to have to say that.” It’s a break.
“I really hope we don’t have to say that, but like I said, I’m not ruling it out.
“The most important thing is that students should stay at the university for a short time after graduation so as not to spread the disease.”
At the University of Aberdeen, 72 residents of Wavell House were asked to self-isolate after a number of students tested positive.
The university said they will be assisted with food and supplies and that the affected areas of the building will be thoroughly cleaned.
About the BBC breakfast, Prof. Leitch said: “I am very concerned about higher education and continuing education, I have always been.
“I was worried when it came back and I am worried now.
“Predictably, we have cases. Every country in the world that brought universities back has cases.
“We have to be very, very careful. Even if most of these cases don’t get serious illness, some of them and some of them may get transmitted to the community. “
A University of Glasgow spokesperson said: “We are aware of two significant clusters of positive cases of Covid-19 in our residences on Murano Street and Cairncross, which we believe were largely due to social activity between September 12-14 attributed to Freshers Week.
“We are working closely with the NHS Greater Glasgow and the Clyde Public Health Team to manage these.”
The university tweeted that a mobile test center will be set up in Murano and that the affected students will be supported with food and other relief items.
Minutes of a meeting of the Scientific Emergency Advisory Group (Sage) earlier this month warned that the risk of outbreaks from higher education institutions is more likely towards the end of the semester when students return home on Christmas and New Years.
It warned that this could pose a risk to families and local communities, saying the situation will require “national oversight, monitoring and decision-making”.
Greg Fell, Sheffield Director of Public Health, told Times Radio: “There will of course be times when students legitimately have to go home for all sorts of reasons.
“But the recommendation is basically to stay in place.”
The University and College Union said the UK government needs to listen to science, look at experiences from other countries and tell universities to make online learning their standard position right away.
His General Secretary Jo Grady said, “If the government doesn’t act now, thousands more students will be moving onto campus this weekend.
“It is completely irresponsible to let students return to university after outbreaks have started.”