That added frustration was applying for an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate, a requirement for foreign students hoping to study hard sciences in the UK. The most frustrating part about it, however, was the ambiguity over the timeline.
There were several places during the process that gave time lines. Here are a couple of the timing statements from the first page alone:
- If you require an ATAS certificate ... [allow] at least four weeks (20 working days) in order to obtain it.
- We aim to [complete] applications within 20 working days, but this may be longer during busy periods.
- At the moment we are still able to turn around most fully completed applications within 5-6 weeks.
Then on the page where you actually submit the application, it says that most are completed in 5-10 working days.
Thankfully, my ATAS frustration is now over after a full 10 working days. Yes, the clock started ticking on Monday, September 16 and my approval came through today, Friday, September 27.
For those who have found this page by searching for ATAS timelines, you may be interested to know that my code was G400 and I am studying in a school of computing (though my studies are tied to the social side, not the technical side).
For those who are reading this because they’re following my life, here’s what happens next: I will send my ATAS certificate to the university so that they can issue me a CAS number (no, I didn’t miss an “e”; it’s CAS not CASE). I will then work to complete my Tier 4 application and then I will wait as patiently as possible for that to process.
With the ATAS arriving sooner than expected, I am now feeling a bit more confident that I will make it back to Scotland in time for my November 1 start date—which is two months later than the original date, but as they say: Better late than never!
These PhD dreams will become a PhD reality yet!