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UK attracts record number of US students

A record number of students from the United States are coming to study in Britain, with undergraduate intakes rising by more than a quarter over the past four years, new figures reveal.

Data released by the UK's Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) shows a record 4,346 American students were taking full first degrees at British universities in 2012-13 -- four per cent more than in the previous year and 28 per cent more than in 2008-09.

UCAS is also reporting an eight per cent rise in US applicants for courses starting in 2014-15, to a total of 2,933 applicants submitting almost 10,500 applications to UK universities.

The news follows reports of record flows in the opposite direction, as a growing number of UK students apply to study at American universities offering attractive scholarships.

The increase of students of all levels of study from across the Atlantic has especially benefited English and Scottish institutions. They have seen a noticeable increase of US students since 2008-09, with attendance rising 14 per cent and 17 per cent respectively. The top five institutions hosting US students include St Andrews, Oxford, Edinburgh, University College London and University of Westminster.

According to the British Council, UK universities have stepped up their efforts to recruit American students in recent years. Eight institutions are now members of the Common Application, a US university application system, making it even easier for Americans to submit applications for undergraduate study. Three of these universities are Scottish, including St Andrews which hosted the most number of Americans in 2012-13.
In addition, some UK universities have opened recruitment offices in the US or increased their recruitment activities.

International students in the UK collectively paid an estimated £10.2bn in tuition fees and living expenses in 2011-12, Government figures show. US students constitute approximately five per cent of non-EU students in the UK.

Penny Egan CBE, Executive Director of the US-UK Fulbright Commission commented: "Despite the fact that the UK has seen its first decline in non-EU students in 20 years, it's not all doom and gloom. This newly released data shows that the world-class education available in the UK is still a huge draw to international students, in particular Americans."

According to the British Council, key factors that make the UK an attractive study destination for American students include its strong reputation for high quality education, the shorter length of degrees, and increased
competitiveness on the job market. Additionally, unlike their British peers, American students are able to use their US government loans to complete full degrees abroad, when scholarships are not available.

Paul Smith, Director of the British Council in the USA, said "It's great to see more American students choosing to study in the UK every year. The challenges of the 21st  century are global in nature and scope. US students choosing a British undergraduate degree have the benefit not only of an excellent education but also an international experience that will serve as a valuable asset to their future careers. The more young people who take the opportunity to study overseas, the more future leaders we will have who can view the world with a responsible international perspective."

Miko Brown, an American Undergraduate Student at the University of St Andrews, said: "I thought a UK university would be the best fit for me, since I would be able to focus from the beginning on the subjects I am passionate about. In addition, St Andrews' unique international community appealed to me because I desired to engage with a variety of perspectives in the classroom. Overall, my St Andrews experience has been
incredible and I will cherish my memories of St Andrews forever."

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