Privacy Policy

Who we are

Our website address is:

Privacy statement for applicants

Information for applicants about how we use your personal data and who we share it with.

Where does the Maxwell Institute Graduate School (MIGS) get your personal data from?

We obtain personal data about you from the following sources:

·        From your application, and from any additional information you provide as part of a pre-application enquiry, to supplement or clarify your
application, or as part of a feedback request, appeal or complaint.

·        From third party sources (e.g. your nominated academic referees). When we obtain personal data about you from third party sources, we will aim to ensure that the third party has lawful authority to provide us with your personal data.

Purposes for processing

The information you provide will be used by MIGS to give you accurate pre-application advice, for the assessment of your application, to invite you to take part in on campus or online events, and for the consideration of appeals and complaints.

We set out in table 1 of this notice (below) the purposes for which we will process your personal data in detail.

Why we process your personal data

There are various legal bases for why we use your information. You will find the appropriate legal basis listed alongside each of the purposes for processing your data shown in table 1.

Here is a brief explanation of each of the legal bases:


  • Consent – On specific occasions MIGS will only process certain data if you consent, e.g. on your application form, you only need to provide certain “special categories” of data if you agree to that.
  • Necessary for entering into a student contract – On many occasions MIGS will process your data to enable it to meet its commitments to you, e.g. assessing your application for an offer of a place.
  • Necessary for the performance of a task carried in the public interest – MIGS is an educational establishment and in particular its educational activity is conducted in a public interest (including your interest and the interest of others).
  • Necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interest of the MIGS or a third-party subject to overridden interests of the data subject- MIGS (and sometimes third parties) has a broad legitimate interest in activities that connect to the activities and education of students. Subject to those interests not being overridden by the interests of fundamental rights and freedoms of students, it will pursue those interests. Where Article 6(1)(f) is used the “legitimate interest” is generally the interest of MIGS (or third party) in providing or supporting the provision of higher education to its students.





Special category data is personal data which is more sensitive, and so needs more protection. This data would include anything
that reveals racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, or trade union membership, and the processing of genetic
data, biometric data for the purpose of uniquely identifying a natural person, data concerning health or data concerning a natural person’s sex life or sexual orientation. To process these types of data additional legal bases are required:


  • Processing “special categories” of data where you have given consent – MIGS will
    process certain sensitive information about you with your consent, for example,
    to contact you in relation to any adjustments you may require as a result
    of a disability, or to combat fraud.
  • Processing “special categories” of data where necessary for reasons
    of substantial public interest.

Sharing your information

Information about Scottish and EU applicants may be shared with Scottish Funding Council for statistical purposes.

Information about successful non-EEA applicants will be shared with United Kingdom Visas and Immigration.

Police forces within United Kingdom can request information about an applicant’s contact details, programme and start date that MIGS may share under the GDPR and DPA 2018. These requests are stored for 6 years. Any requests from outside the UK will be reviewed by the Head of Student Administration Services.

Information provided by applicants about their qualifications may be shared with awarding bodies, previous academic institutions or national or international verification services to verify qualifications and grades.

Information about successful applicants for degrees awarded jointly within the MAC-MIGS CDT, and where MIGS is processing the applications, is shared with the partner organisations.

Information about postgraduate research applicants who have accepted an offer from MIGS is shared with the relevant Research Council.

The Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme application form which is completed by a successful applicant for a degree programme which requires PVG Scheme membership and which is given to MIGS for verification and countersignature, will be passed to Disclosure Scotland once the form has been countersigned.

Information about applicants who have firmly accepted an offer to study at MIGS is shared with the Edinburgh University Student Association and the Heriot Watt Student Union.

If you write to us in Gaelic, we may be using a third party translator to translate your message into English and our response back into Gaelic.

Ma sgrìobhas sibh litir no post-d thugainn sa Ghàidhlig, tha e comasach gun cleachd sinn eadar-theangair airson do theachdaireachd eadar- heangachadh bhon Ghàidhlig gu Beurla agus freagairt air ais dhan a’ Ghàidhlig.

Information technology systems

MIGS is made up of several services and departments who collect, process and store your data in a variety of sub-systems to deliver their services. These local systems are part of the corporately-supported IT architecture which maintains a live service as well as copies of the live systems used for software development and testing. These development and testing systems will also contain your data and respect MIGS’s
data retention periods. It is in the legitimate interest of MIGS to use your data in this way to ensure that the services you interact with are secure and provide the best student experience possible.


Your information may be used to allow us to carry out surveys. These  help us to improve our services and the applicant experience.


If you have any questions, please contact


Table 1: uses of your data


“Retention period” refers to the number of academic years that your data will be held for after you complete your studies.

Uses of your data


Data category

Short description

Specific purpose

Legal basis

Retention period

Pre-application enquiries.

Potential applicants provide personal data, and sometimes sensitive personal data, in order to get advice and information from admissions staff which is tailored to their own specific circumstances.

As a prospective applicant, you may provide us with contact information so that admissions staff can reply to your query, and you may provide personal information related to your health, disability, criminal convictions, care status, financial circumstances etc. so that we can provide the most accurate advice possible, specific to your circumstances.

Potential applicants expect us to retain the information they have given us so that admissions staff will have access to it if they go on to make an application at a later date.


To the end of the current admissions cycle plus 1 year.



Information sent to us electronically or by post which does not
include a pre-application enquiry, and which we can’t match to a current application, will be securely destroyed at the end of the admissions cycle in which it was received.


To the end of the current
admissions cycle.



We may use contact information you have shared with us to invite you to take part in on campus and online activities and events which we believe may be of interest to you, or to send you information about MIGS.

Legitimate interest.

To the end of the current
admissions cycle plus 1 year.







The admissions process collects information submitted by applicants in order to assess their suitability for a place on the chosen programme of study.


Admissions requires communication and interaction between an applicant and MIGS, and when it is deemed material to the application, additional information provided by an applicant will be added to the application record.

Your application must include information about identity such as name, title, date of birth and gender. It must also provide information regarding your educational background such as previously-attained qualifications, transcripts, personal statements or research topics, and professional experience where relevant to support the application.


The information contained on the application is used to screen applications to ensure that applicants meet the minimum criteria required for their chosen programme of study, and to select applicants who will receive an offer, or who will progress to the next stage of selection where appropriate, which may involve an invitation to attend an interview.

Performance of contract.

Completion plus 5 years for successful applicants.



To the end of the admissions cycle
plus 1 year for unsuccessful applicants.



Information provided on your application may be used to invite you to take part in on campus and online activities and events. We may send you information about MIGS, and about services which might be useful to you. 

If you accept an offer, we will send you information about
arrangements for Welcome Week, and guidance on the things you will need to do when you arrive at MIGS.

Legitimate interest.

To the end of the current
admissions cycle.






Fee status assessment

Fee status determines both the expected fees that would be due as part of an offer to study at MIGS, and the fee status group within which an application will be considered.

We will use information from your application including your
nationality and residency to establish which fee status group you will be part of. This determines both the expected fees that would be due as part of an offer to study at MIGS, and the fee status group within which your application will be considered.

If the information provided on your application cannot clearly define your fee status then you may be required to complete a Fee Status Questionnaire. You may have to provide evidence of your place of birth, previous schools, copies of your passport and your parents’ passports.

Additionally you may be asked to disclose information about
scholarships and bursaries that you receive.

Performance of contract.

Legal obligation (Education (Fees and Awards) (Scotland) Regulations

Completion plus 5 years for successful applicants.

To the end of the admissions cycle plus 1 year for unsuccessful







MIGS provides Tier 4 visa sponsorship to remain in the UK during your  studies. All non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals will require permission to enter or remain in the UK.

Your nationality and country of birth are used to ascertain if you requires a visa to study, and this is communicated to you during the admissions process.

Tier 4 sponsorship is provided in the form of a Confirmation of Acceptance for Study (CAS). A CAS is an electronic document that confirms to the UK Home Office that MIGS wishes to sponsor your migration to the UK for the purpose of study. This document will be created for you, and you can use this as part of your visa application.

You need to supply a copy of your visa and passport as MIGS is responsible for verifying these documents.

Legal Obligation (Part 3, Section
A57B. In paragraphs A57A to A57H of the UK Immigration Rules).



Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) is one of the UK government’s measures to prevent the spread of
knowledge and skills used to develop weapons of mass destruction and associated technology. Applicants to certain science and technology programmes in the UK require you to have ATAS clearance and this must obtained before making a Tier 4 visa application.








Disability support

Applicants are encouraged to
indicate on their application if they have a disability.

Any information you provide on your application about your disability is used in accordance with the University of Edinburgh’s Admissions policy for students who have disclosed a disabilityThe Student Disability Service will use information provided on your application to tell you about
the services available to you and to invite you to meet and discuss any support requirements you may have.

Performance of a Contract

Necessary for reasons of
substantial public interest linked with Schedule 1, Condition 6 of the Data
Protection Act 2018.

Completion plus 5 years for successful applicants.

To the end of the admissions cycle
plus 1 year for unsuccessful applicants.






Admissions fraud

MIGS  will not admit a student on the basis of an application which is found to be fraudulent.

If you are found to have committed fraud in the application and admissions process, in accordance with the University of Edinburgh’s Policy and Procedure regarding Admissions Fraud, we reserve the right to retain your personal information so that any future applications you submit can be identified.

Legitimate interest.

In perpetuity.






Admissions Appeals

Unsuccessful applicants may appeal
the admissions decision we have made.

Unsuccessful applicants may provide contact information in order to receive a response to an admissions appeal, and may provide personal information related to health, disability, care status, financial circumstances etc. which will need to be taken into account in consideration of their appeal.


Performance of contract.

Necessary for reasons of substantial public interest linked with
Schedule 1, Condition 6 of the Data Protection Act 2018.

To the end of the current
admissions cycle plus 1 year. 







Complaints may be submitted by
applicants, or potential applicants, and may include personal data. 

Applicants may provide contact information in order to receive a response to a complaint, and may provide personal information related to health, disability, care status, financial circumstances etc. which will need to be taken into account in consideration of their complaint.

Performance of contract

Necessary for reasons of
substantial public interest linked with Schedule 1, Condition 6 of the Data
Protection Act 2018.

5 years.






Equality monitoring

Information on protected
characteristics is collected as part of the application process.

MIGS  is committed to equality of opportunity for all its students and staff, and promotes a culture of inclusivity. To this end we collect equalities information including your
ethnicity and any disabilities so that we can analyse data and produce statistics to ensure MIGS is meeting the requirements of Scottish regulations under the Equality Act 2010 and the obligations under the terms of the Research Council grant.

Legitimate interest

Necessary for reasons of
substantial public interest: Equality of opportunity or treatment.

Completion plus 5 years for successful applicants

To the end of the admissions cycle plus 1 year for unsuccessful

Anonymised equality data will be kept in perpetuity.


University privacy statements

MIGS is part of the Maxwell Institute, which is a partnership between the Universities of Edinburgh and Heriot Watt. The Universities maintain several other privacy statements that are specific to services delivered. Successful applicants are subject to the University of Edinburgh’s policies and regulations during their first year of study. Thereafter students will be subject to the policies and regulations of whichever University is designated as the lead in their programme of study.

For the University of Edinburgh, these are accessible here: 

For Heriot Watt University these are accessible here: