What is an ATAS Certificate?

Students applying to some study science-based courses often ask the question: what is an ATAS certificate? First, ATAS stands for ‘Academic Technology Approval Scheme’. An ATAS certificate is required before you can be accepted to study certain courses in the UK.

ATAS has been implemented by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to ensure that students applying to study certain sensitive courses in the UK have no connection to programmes that may lead to the creation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

In response to the question: what is an ATAS certificate, and when it is needed, it encompasses those programmes and research areas where knowledge could be applied towards developing advanced conventional military technology (ACMT), weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and their delivery systems.

Before enrolling in courses or starting research in sensitive fields, researchers and students must apply for an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate.

Should I apply for ATAS certificate?

Nationals of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA), Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland or the United States of America do not need an ATAS certificate to enrol on a course in the UK. Also, if you hold indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK, you do not need an ATAS certificate.

Who needs an ATAS certificate?

All international students and researchers (aside from exempt nationalities) who are subject to UK immigration control and wish to study or research certain sensitive subjects at the postgraduate level must apply for the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS).

To study or research certain sensitive subjects in the UK, you must apply for an ATAS certificate. The ATAS clearance requirement may also apply if you want to study for an undergraduate course with an integrated master’s year, e.g., a four-year degree.

When you apply for permission to enter the UK, the entry clearance officer (ECO) will request your ATAS certificate if your course falls within the scope of those that need a certificate. When you apply for permission to remain in the UK, a caseworker must also see your ATAS certificate.

It is essential to understand what is an ATAS certificate and its implications. International students and researchers are not permitted to apply to a university or research institute to study or conduct research in an ATAS-applicable course until they have obtained the correct ATAS certificate.

I currently hold a UK student visa. Do I need an ATAS certificate?

If you are already in the UK on a student visa, you will still need an ATAS certificate for the institution you are attending, and the programme you are studying, including modules/subjects or proposed research. If any of these details change after you commence your studies, you are required to check whether you need a certificate and apply for a new one where appropriate.

When should I apply for an ATAS certificate?

If you are a new student and need an ATAS certificate, you will need to obtain this before applying for immigration permission. Your application should be submitted six months before your course begins once you have received your offer from your university. To give applicants time to apply for their visas, ATAS certificates are valid for 6 months from the date they are issued. The certificate should be applied for as soon as possible following the offer of a place to study. Before applying for a UK visa, ensure your certificate is still valid.

How much does it cost to apply for ATAS certificate?

ATAS certificate is issued for free. There is no fee to apply for it.

How to apply for ATAS certificate

Having discussed the question: what is an ATAS certificate, you should proceed to apply for your certificate online through the UK government portal.

To ensure your application is successful, you should adhere to the following requirements:

  • References, employers, and sponsors should be named in full (don’t use initials instead of first names)
  • Provide the contact information of two referees who have known you for at least 3 years, with one of them being an academic referee
  • In the case of being unemployed, indicate ‘not applicable / never employed’
  • To enter the UK, ensure that the passport details are accurate and complete
  • If applicable, provide detailed research statements following your HEI/employer and an adequate personal statement
  • Your application should include the new length of your visit/employment if you are extending your research. Your application for an extension should include the start date when you submit it
  • Make sure there are no long gaps in your employment and education histories. On the form, you should indicate if you are unemployed, for example, or a full-time parent.
  • Be sure to enter the correct CAH3 code for your course or research area before you submit your application. If you do not include this information, you will have to reapply.
  • Your application information will appear on the certificate. Before you submit your application, please read over all of your entries carefully.

What courses require an ATAS certificate?

If you want to take science-based postgraduate courses in mechanical engineering, chemistry, metallurgy, artificial intelligence, mathematics, etc., you need an ASAS to be accepted into the courses. The list includes:

Any postgraduate taught course starting with the JACS codes:

  • F2 – Materials Science
  • F3 – Physics (including Nuclear Physics)
  • H3 – Mechanical Engineering (including Industrial Engineering)
  • H4 – Aerospace Engineering
  • H8 – Chemical, Process and Energy Engineering
  • J5 – Materials Technology not otherwise specified

Postgraduate research course JACS codes starting with:

Subjects allied to medicine

  • B1 – Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology
  • B2 – Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmacy
  • B9 – Others in Subjects allied to Medicine and Biological Sciences
  • C1 – Biology
  • C2 – Botany
  • C4 – Genetics
  • C5 – Microbiology
  • C7 – Molecular Biology, Biophysics and Biochemistry
  • C9 – Others in Biological Sciences

Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects

  • D3 – Animal Science
  • D9 – Others in Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects

Physical Sciences disciplines

  • F1 – Chemistry
  • F2 – Materials Science
  • F3 – Physics
  • F5 – Astronomy
  • F8 – Physical Geographical Sciences
  • F9 – Others in Physical Sciences

Mathematical and Computer Sciences disciplines

  • G0 –Mathematical and Computer Sciences
  • G1 – Mathematics
  • G2 – Operational Research
  • G4 – Computer Science
  • G7 – Artificial Intelligence
  • G9 – Others in Mathematical and Computing Sciences

Engineering disciplines

  • H1 – General Engineering
  • H2 – Civil Engineering
  • H3 – Mechanical Engineering
  • H4 – Aerospace Engineering
  • H5 – Naval Architecture
  • H6 – Electronic and Electrical Engineering
  • H7 – Production and Manufacturing Engineering
  • H8 – Chemical, Process and Energy Engineering
  • H9 – Others in Engineering

Computer Sciences

  • I1 – Computer Science
  • I4 – Artificial Intelligence
  • I9 – Others in computer Sciences

Technologies disciplines

  • J2 – Metallurgy
  • J4 – Polymers and Textiles
  • J5 – Materials Technology not otherwise specified
  • J7 – Industrial Biotechnology
  • J9 – Others in Technology

Related Articles