UK Universities
Foreign students are being banned from taking nuclear, biological and chemical warfare courses in the UK due to security concerns.Getty Images

Foreign students have reportedly been banned from taking courses teaching nuclear, biological and chemical warfare at UK universities due to security concerns.

According to reports, an estimated 739 international students have been barred from enrolling in specific university courses following concerns that they might use the acquired knowledge to coordinate terrorist attacks.

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme that was launched by the government in 2007 is used to examine students outside the EU when they apply to certain science courses that could be used to create weapons of mass destruction.

MPs, however, fear the scheme doesn't take into account the risk of local British students who can also use the knowledge and channel it towards terrorism.

The chairman of the Committee on Arms Exports Controls, Sir John Stanley MP, told the Sun on Sunday: "The fact 739 students have had to be barred indicates this is grounds for serious concern.

"It is extraordinary given the threat we face for the Government to go on refusing to extend this to those in the UK. We have made the recommendation for at least two years but it has been consistently rejected."

Up to 20,000 applications were made by foreign students last year under the scheme, according to the Foreign Office.

A House of Lords report has, however, condemned the scheme as adding to the UK universities' struggle in trying to recruit international students.

Tobias Ellwood, the Coalition's minister for counter proliferation, said, as reported by The Independent: "The UK's higher education sector is important to the British economy and it is important that we get the balance right between meeting our international security commitments and supporting our higher education institutions."

Since the House of Lords report, a new website was launched last month to make the scheme more accessible.

According to NBC News, an estimated 3,400 Western citizens have joined the Islamic State (Isis) militant group.