The ATAS hoop

Today I learned that I have another obstacle to manoeuvre around before applying for my new student visa. Apparently, because I will be in a computer-based programme, I have to apply for a certificate from the Academic Technology Approval Scheme.

The scheme, according to the UK government’s website, is “specifically designed to ensure that those applying for postgraduate study in certain sensitive subjects do not acquire knowledge that could potentially be used in WMD programmes”.

Of course, I am researching social media, which is kind of a weapon of mass destruction in some cases. So, how will that work? [enter humorous tone here]

But, seriously …

I am ever-so-slightly frustrated with this bit of information because it means another delay before I can apply for my visa. And with each delay, I am faced with another delay in the start date for my PhD studies.

Thankfully, the university has already said that they are happy to push my start date back, but it is still upsetting to think of waiting for my dreams to be realised, again.

Now, there is a chance that the certificate will be granted in record time, but as they state that it can take 20 working days, I’m not holding my breath. Add to that the visa processing time, which can be 2-4 weeks and can’t be applied for until after the ATAS certificate is issued, and I might be looking at a few extra weeks in America.

The bad side? Another delay on starting my PhD; missing the Loch Ness Marathon; not having enough clothes to last the extra month; not having fall or winter clothes for when the weather turns cooler.

The good side? More time with family and friends in America.

Several little frustrating things will come from this, too, like having to reschedule appointments and figuring out how to make my holiday money stretch, but there’s really nothing life-threatening about this situation.

As for the certificate? I’m not worried about it in the least. It seems like it’s a bit of a background check and I don’t have anything in my history (or in my future intentions!) that include WMDs or any other mean or evil things. (I’m a good girl, I am!)

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