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Export Control Policy

The Policy reiterates the University's commitment to complying with Export Control Law.


Information not provided
Information not provided
Approval date
13 Oct 2022
Approved by
Date of last review
13 Oct 2022
Date of next review
Information not provided

1. Introduction

1.1. The University of Bath is committed to upholding the highest standards of research integrity and business conduct.

1.2. The University will uphold the relevant laws to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and countering terrorism by restricting the export of goods and/or technology.

2. Aims

The aims of this policy are to guide research staff and students on:

2.1. how, data, physical goods, software or technology owned by Universities can potentially be misused

2.2. what their obligations are in law, and what is expected of them by the University, and

2.3. how they can comply with those obligations and meet those expectations.

This policy applies to research activities only. A separate policy will be developed for matters pertaining to education.

3. Definitions

All definitions below are extracted from Department for International Trade ‘Guidance: exporting military or dual-use technology: definitions and scope’.

Basic scientific research

Basic scientific research means experimental or theoretical work undertaken principally to acquire new knowledge of the fundamental principles of phenomena or observable facts and not primarily directed towards a specific practical aim or objective


Development means all stages prior to production (for example. design, design research, design analyses, design concepts, assembly and testing of prototypes, pilot production schemes, design data, process of transforming design data into goods or software, configuration design, integration design, layouts).


Dual-use Items are goods, software or technology (documents, diagrams etc) which can be used for both civil and military applications. They can range from raw materials to components to complete systems, eg aluminium alloys, bearings, or lasers. They could also be items used in the production or development of military goods or chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, eg machine tools, chemical/manufacturing equipment and computers.


Export Control Joint Unit

Export control

Export controls for technology aim to prevent transfers that can lead to developing or producing weapons or goods which: (i) Could be used against the UK and allied forces and/or (ii) Cause national security concerns. Export controls apply to physical goods or the transfer of software, data, technology, or know-how which could have a military application.


‘Information’ may take forms including, not limited to: blueprints, plans, diagrams, models, formulae, tables, ‘source code’, engineering designs and specifications, manuals and instructions written or recorded on other media or devices (for example disk, tape, read-only memories).

In the public domain

In the public domain means available without restriction upon further dissemination (no account being taken of restrictions arising solely from copyright).


Required as applied to technology, it refers only to that portion of technology which is peculiarly responsible for achieving or extending the controlled performance levels, characteristics or functions. Such required technology may be shared by different goods.

‘Source code’

‘Source code’ (or source language) is a convenient expression of one or more processes which may be turned by a programming system into equipment executable form.


Transfer, in relation to software or technology, means transfer by electronic or non-electronic means (or any combination of electronic and non-electronic means) from a person or place within the United Kingdom to a person or place outside the United Kingdom.

Transfer by electronic means

Transfer by electronic means, in relation to software or technology, means transmission by facsimile, telephone, cloud services based outside of the UK or other electronic media (except that oral transmission of technology by telephone is included only where the technology is contained in a document the relevant part of which is read out over the telephone, or is described over the telephone in such a way as to achieve substantially the same result as if it had been so read).

Transfer by non-electronic means

Transfer by non-electronic means, in relation to software or technology, means disclosure of technology by any means (or combination of means), including oral communication, other than as the export of goods or the transfer by electronic means.


‘Technology’ is a defined term within export control legislation. Quotation marks denote this and other defined terms in the export control lists. Technology means specific ‘information’ necessary for the development, production or use of goods or software.


Use means operation, installation (for example on-site installation), maintenance, checking, repair, overhaul and refurbishing.

Voluntary Disclosure

There are instances where it might become apparent that export of goods or transfer of controlled technology may have occurred without an appropriate export licence in place. It is also possible that such irregularity might have been identified by a compliance inspector from ECJU. If this happens, it is very important to report the irregularity to HMRC (sometimes known as ‘voluntary disclosure’) as soon as possible. If the irregularity is found by audit, the compliance inspector will have informed HMRC and the exporter is strongly advised to do the same.

4. Scope

4.1. This policy, and all its sections, applies to all members of University staff and all students intending to transfer:

4.2. Breach of this policy may constitute a disciplinary offence for staff and students and will be subject to investigation under the University’s research misconduct and/or disciplinary procedures. Criminal penalties may also apply (see below).

4.3. Breaching export controls is a criminal offence. Penalties can vary depending on the nature of the offence. They include:

  • Revocation of licences
  • Seizure of items
  • Issuing of a compound penalty fine
  • Imprisonment for up to 10 years

5. Roles and responsibilities

5.1. The University Council has overall responsibility for the implementation, monitoring and review of this Policy. In doing so they are supported by the Vice-Chancellor’s Office and the Executive Board.

5.2. The Export Control Manager is the Project Manager (University Research). They are responsible for:

  • Working with the member of staff to identify whether an export licence is required and what type of licence to apply for.
  • Applying for export licences.
  • Managing the export process.
  • Record keeping.
  • Identifying relevant staff and ensuring that they are aware of export control and this policy.
  • Delivering training; and
  • Coordinating audits.

5.3. The Export Control Director, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), has overall responsibility for ensuring compliance with this policy, including overseeing internal self-audit and approving each export licence application.

5.4. Line managers are responsible for ensuring that their staff are aware and understand the policy.

5.5. Members of staff are responsible for:

  • familiarising themselves with this policy,
  • completing all relevant training as provided or recommended by the University,
  • complying with the controls in respect of the export of research results and materials they produce,
  • providing the necessary advice and guidance to the students they supervise (where applicable) and
  • seeking advice and requesting that licences are applied for as necessary, via the Export Control Manager.

5.6. Procurement team and other staff supporting researchers are responsible for ensuring that the policy is discharged to research staff where appropriate.

6. Policy

Preventing breaches of export control legislation

6.1.1. Any researcher looking to transfer software or technology should use the checklist in Annex I to confirm whether export control applies to their work.

6.1.2. Areas most likely to be affected include (not an exhaustive list) :

  • automation and control including drones and other technology
  • aeronautical and space technology
  • applied chemistry, biochemistry and chemical engineering
  • applied physics
  • biological sciences relating to viruses, pathogens and vaccines
  • biotechnology
  • chemical or toxic properties
  • cryptography
  • electrical and mechanical engineering
  • instrumentation and sensors
  • lasers, sonar and optics
  • materials technology
  • navigation and avionics
  • high specification electronics, computers and telecommunications
  • high strength materials
  • nuclear sciences, technologies or engineering
  • production and process technology
  • submersible equipment
  • telecommunications and information technology

6.1.3. The online checker will need to be used to establish:

6.1.4. If the items are listed under a control list (‘rating’) entry, contact the Export Control Manager, as per Section 5 to seek advice and start the application as an export licence is needed, from the Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU). Licences can be applied through SPIRE the online export licensing system. All applications will need to be submitted by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), as Export Control Director, on behalf of the University.

Types of licences

There are 2 categories of licences available:

6.1.5. Open General Export Licences (OGELs)

6.1.6. Standard Individual Export Licences (SIELS) The OGEL checker is a search tool designed to find a suitable standard OGEL licence. If no OGEL is available, a SIEL will be required in order to export the item. The OGEL checked can be accessed via this link

6.2. Exceptions and Exemptions

6.2.1. There is no automatic exemption for academic researchers and their work.

6.2.2. The legislation allows for exemptions should all of the conditions listed below. Exemptions should be considered in consultation with the Export Manager.

  • Basic scientific research: experimental or theoretical work undertaken principally to acquire knowledge of fundamental principles or phenomena or observable facts.
  • Information in the public domain freely available without restriction
  • The minimum technical information required to support a patent application for a non-nuclear dual use ‘technology’
  • Limits of academic exemption include all aspects of research focused advanced postgraduate degrees such as MPhil or PhD looking at areas of controlled technology. By definition, these degrees will include technology no covered by the ‘public domain’. To qualify for the ‘basic research’ exemption any technology generated by the research must fall in a low (1-3) Technology Readiness level (TRL) as such:
    • Be solely to add to the sum of human knowledge
    • Not be aimed at a specific (short-term) practical aim
    • Not address a specific technical problem

7. Declaring irregularities

7.1. In instances where a member of staff discovers that they, or a colleague, have exported goods or transferred controlled technology without an appropriate export licence in place, it is very important to report the irregularity to HMRC as a ‘voluntary disclosure’, as soon as possible.

7.2. Compliance inspections from the Export Control Joint Unit may also identify an irregularity during a compliance audit. Members of staff are also encouraged to proceed with a ‘voluntary disclosure’ when informed of a irregularity via an auditor.

7.3. ‘voluntary disclosures’ should be done in writing to HM Revenue & Customs, Customs Enforcement Policy Team, 1st floor, Customs House Annex, 32 St Mary At Hill, London EC3R 8DY. During the COVID-19 pandemic ‘voluntary disclosures can also be made by e-mail to

7.4. Any ‘voluntary disclosures’ should also be notified to the Project Manager (University Research).

7.5. When reporting voluntary disclosures please include:

  • Details of the export, including dates
  • Any relevant documents, such as export documentation and commercial invoices
  • Details of how the breach was discovered, why it occurred and what steps have been put in place to ensure it does not happen again.

7.6. If a person feel that they are not able to report their findings through the route detailed above, they can:

  • Request that the Project Manager (University Research) does so on their behalf
  • Consider reporting their finding by means of the University’s Public Interest Disclosure Policy Whistleblowing Policy

8. Import Controls

8.1. Technology imported into the UK is also subject to import controls.

8.2. Further information about import controls can be found on the government’s website here

9. Academic Freedom

9.1. As per Section 8 of the Export Control Act 2002, the Secretary of State may not make a control order which has the effect of prohibiting or regulating the communication of information in the ordinary course of scientific research.

9.2. Further advice on academic freedom should be obtained from the legal team in the first instance.

10. Information and Training

10.1. The University is responsible for providing training and support to members of staff and students where required.

10.2. The Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) provides training for exporting and trading individuals or companies of all sizes, as well as government organizations.

10.3. Training and webinars are available here

10.4. The export control joint unit has a helpline Telephone 020 7215 4594

10.5. Higher education guide and toolkit on export controls and the ATAS student vetting scheme

10.6. Guidance on how to apply to ATAS is available here and here

10.7. Case studies scenarios showing when an export licence may be needed in university teaching and research environments have been published by the Department for International Trade

11. Related policies and procedures

11.1. Risk Management Strategy

11.2. Procedure for Enquiring into Allegations of Research Misconduct

11.3. Public Interest Disclosure Procedure (whistleblowing)

12. References

12.1. Export controls applying to academic research

12.2. Higher Education Guide and Toolkit on Export Controls and the ATAS student Vetting Scheme

12.3. Durham University

12.4. University of Bristol


Export Control Checklist

Approved by: Council

Approval date: 13 October 2022

Date of last review: 13 October 2022


If you have any questions, please contact us.

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