NICOLA Sturgeon has defended a Welsh Channel 4 journalist who was told to “go home” after asking a question at her coronavirus briefing.

Ciaran Jenkins asked the First Minister two questions about new rules Scotland’s students face in an effort to control coronavirus outbreaks at universities.

Following the broadcast a Twitter user posted a message saying the “Welsh reporter from an English TV channel thinks he knows better” than the First Minister.

The user continued: “Go home Ciaran … Scots don’t give a damn about your views!”

Jenkins responded publicly to the message to say: “’Go home’? Scotland is my home.”

Sturgeon then stepped in to stick up for the reporter, telling him: “Scotland certainly is your home.

“And we are lucky to have you here (even if you do ask me tough questions!)”

Jenkins thanked Sturgeon for her comment, adding: "(I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else so you’re stuck with my questions for a while yet!)"

During the Scottish Government coronavirus update this afternoon, Jenkins said: “First Minister, can you confirm you’re asking not just students in halls but all quarter of a million students in Scotland not to go out to any hospitality this weekend? And do you support disciplinary action including expulsion from university if students don’t comply?”

Sturgeon confirmed that she was asking this of all students in Scotland, but said disciplinary action should not be the first line of defence.

“I’m making a request of all students this weekend to try to get campus outbreaks under control to not go to pubs,” she told the journalist. “Now I don’t underplay the significance of that request but equally I’ve asked people for six months now not to visit their vulnerable relatives in care homes. I’m having to ask people to do really difficult things all of the time. So I’m asking all students for a weekend to not go to pubs and hopefully that will help us stem these outbreaks.

“And on the second part of your question yes I do support universities taking disciplinary action as a last resort and as a backstop.”

She said the same strategy would apply as within the police, where “if you have people who are just flagrantly breaching rules then of  course discipline and enforcement has to be part of the answer”.

The First Minister stressed it was not solely students asked to make sacrifices at the moment.

She went on: “I’m asking everybody across Scotland right now and in the main people are responding to do the right things not because of the threat of enforcement or disciplinary action but to do the right things for the right reasons, because by all of us doing the right things we are more successful at stopping an infectious and dangerous virus making people ill and taking the lives of some people. And that’s the spirit I will continue to try to get people to pull together in.”

READ MORE: The four key points from Nicola Sturgeon's coronavirus briefing

Opposition politicians and student bodies have been critical of the Scottish Government’s handling of the return of students to universities.

New rules, agreed between Universities Scotland and the Scottish Government, “make absolutely clear to students that there must be no parties, and no socialising outside their households".

They go on to say: "This weekend, the first of the new tighter Scottish Government guidance, we will require students to avoid all socialising outside of their households and outside of their accommodation.”

The National Union of Students Scotland said new stricter guidelines are “unjustified”.

There are more than 1000 students at Scotland’s institutions currently self-isolating. There have been outbreaks recorded in Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

A total of 172 Glasgow University students have now tested positive for coronavirus, and 120 cases have been identified in a cluster at Edinburgh Napier.