Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)
ATAS is a scheme run by the UK government for international students who want to study certain subjects in the UK. The ATAS certificate is issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and gives security clearance to study these subjects.
Do I need ATAS?
ATAS clearance only applies to certain subject areas, where the knowledge gained could be used in the development or delivery of weapons of mass destruction (eg, certain science, engineering or technology subjects).
The ATAS requirement does not apply to UK nationals, other exempt nationals, or those not subject to visa conditions e.g. with Indefinite Leave to Enter/Remain. The vast majority of visas will allow you to study provided you have ATAS clearance (for relevant subject areas). If you require a Student visa or will be studying under the Visitor immigration rules for up to six months (e.g. as a visiting or exchange student) you must have ATAS clearance prior to your immigration application. If you hold any other type of visa which permits study you must have ATAS clearance prior to commencing studies.
If you need to apply for ATAS clearance, this will be included as a condition in your offer communication. You must have ATAS clearance before you apply for your visa.
How do I apply for ATAS?
See the ATAS website for details of how to apply. There is currently no charge for ATAS applications. If you are a studying for an MPhil, PhD or EngD you will need to include a paragraph describing your research area. If you are an Undergraduate, Postgraduate Taught, China Partnership or Visiting/Exchange student you will need to list the optional modules that you wish to study on the course. Details of these modules can be found in the section relevant to your level of study below.
ATAS and Student visa applications
If your course requires an ATAS certificate, you must apply for and obtain it before you apply for your Student visa. This applies whether you are a new student or a continuing student extending your visa. If you are a continuing student and change from a course that does not require ATAS to one that does, you will need to obtain an ATAS certificate before you can start your new course.
An ATAS certificate is valid for six months from date of issue and must be valid when you apply for a Student visa. You should therefore plan carefully when you apply for your ATAS certificate.
If you are in the UK on a visa other than Student visa and you wish to study a course that requires ATAS clearance, you will need to obtain an ATAS certificate before you can register for the course.
ATAS and Short-Term Study
If you are studying in the UK for less than six months on a course or a period of study or research that requires ATAS clearance, you will need to apply for an ATAS certificate, and provide this certificate as part of your Short-Term Study visa application.
Changes to study
If the content of your course or research proposal changes or the expected completion date for your course is delayed by more than three months, you will need to apply for a new ATAS certificate within 28 calendar days of the change. This includes studying modules not listed on your original ATAS application, extending your course by undertaking reassessment with attendance in the next academic year or adding a placement year to your course.
For more detailed information about ATAS please visit the UK Government ATAS website.