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ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme)

            ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme).  

Any foreign student coming to your lab for a period of six months or longer, whether to study for a University of Cambridge degree, or simply as an exchange or other academic visitor, must now have their research project approved beforehand by the UK Border Agency, leading to the issue of an ATAS certificate. This must happen before the student applies for a visa, so for those that need visas the ATAS application should be completed at least four months (but not more than twelve months) before their expected arrival date.  The Supervisor must provide a short description of the project the student will be engaged on. This should be around 10 lines (12 point on A4) in length and provide a modest level of detail so that a judgement can be made about technological and terrorism implications.

Two approved examples are given below:

“This research project will investigate the regulation of expression and function of the inducible L-arginine-nitric oxide pathway in cultured vascular cells. The aim is to define the signalling mechanism(s) that regulate the induction of both nitric oxide synthase and the cationic amino acid transport proteins associated with uptake of L-arginine into cells. The project will involve cells in culture and basic molecular techniques including qPCR analysis, protein biochemistry, western blotting, qPCR analysis, mRNA isolation quantification and analysis.”


“Satellite imagery offers a number of potential benefits for the analysis of environmental phenomena. This project proposes to use SPOT2 multi-spectral data to analyse sediment  concentrations in the Mississippi River delta. Reflectance measurements will be calibrated against in-situ field measurements of sediment load. These sediment data will then be integrated into a three dimensional hydrodynamic model of the Mississippi River delta with the aim of developing improved sediment transport models for complex stratified estuarine flows. “


Descriptions have been rejected for supplying either too little or too much information. Supervisors need to try to get this right! The ADAS description should be supplied to the Departmental Graduate Office at the time that the Department approves the application. It will then be used to generate a standard cover letter from the University which will be supplied to the student with their conditional offer. They will use it to apply for the ATAS certificate.

PIs - PhD projects please.

"PhD projects please:
We will be placing PhD Project advertisements on ‘’ during the next few weeks.  If you are considering taking a student, could you please supply a project title, 5 key words and a short description of the project (300 words or less).  Please include the skills that will be gained by the student.  Don’t worry if the project doesn’t yet have funding as we will be looking into their funding situation before inviting candidates to interview.
A prompt email response to Fiona Roby would be very much appreciated."