An Ayrshire youth parliamentarian fears that new restrictions that stop students socialising this weekend and returning home could have a “devastating” impact on their mental health.

The Scottish Government announced yesterday that students across the country would be unable to socialise outside their own household and will not be allowed to go to pubs, parties or restaurants this weekend in a bid to stop further coronavirus outbreaks at campuses with many now having to self-isolate following recent outbreaks.

However, Cunninghame South MSYP Aaran McDonald - who is a student himself - believes the restrictions go too far and has labelled them “dangerous”.

He said: “I want to send my solidarity to students facing these sudden measures and echo the concerns raised by the Children and Young People's Commissioner, National Union of Students Scotland and the University and College Union.

“These measures are far too wide reaching, they will have a devastating impact on the mental health of students and do nothing to address the fact they have been forced into halls needlessly by University Principals when all their classes are online.

“Last year, we saw a growing number of on campus suicides and these measures will only exacerbate the issues, young people many of whom are away from home for the first time being told to stay in tiny rooms with relative strangers all while being told they can’t see their parents is worrying and dangerous.

“I would remind students that under the coronavirus legislation they can cancel their tenancies although this may not apply to some students.

“If any young person is struggling, I would encourage them to call Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87.”

Earlier this week a major outbreak of COVID-19 at Glasgow University saw 172 students test positive with more than 600 people self-isolating.

Outbreaks have also occurred at Abertay in Dundee and the University of Aberdeen.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon apologised to students for the restrictions but urged them to follow the guidance.

She posted on social media: “To all students - I’m so sorry COVID is making this special time of your lives so tough. But it will not be forever and the more we get the virus back under control now, the sooner you’ll get a bit of normality back. So, please do what is being asked of you.

“Please self-isolate if advised, follow rules on socialising and household mixing, remember FACTS and download the Protect Scotland app. Universities have a big responsibility to look out for your welfare - especially if you are isolating - and I know they take that seriously. Thank you.”