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Record number of American students apply to study in Britain

The number of American students applying for places at British universities has reached record levels, new figures show.

New data released by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Services shows a five per cent increase (3,080, compared to 2,930) in the number of US applicants applying by the main January deadline for courses in the UK starting in September.

The record breaking level of interest in undergraduate study in the UK among American students represents the continuation of a trend over the past few years. The Higher Education Statistics Agency has also reported a record 4,555 US students studied at British universities at the first degree level in 2013-14, marking an approximate five per cent increase over the previous year. The number of Americans pursuing their first degree in the UK has risen by a third between 2008-09 and 2013-14.

UK universities have stepped up their recruitment of US students in recent years. Twelve 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. Four of these universities are Scottish, including St Andrews, which hosted the most number of Americans in 2013-14. Scottish universities overall have witnessed a 22 per cent increase in their US student intake over recent years.

Key factors that make British universities particularly popular among American students include the strong reputation of the British higher education system, the shorter length of the 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.

The news of growing interest from the US comes in the wake of a recent report that showed a 10 year high of UK students studying in the US, with a record breaking 10,191 UK students completing their studies in the US in 2013-14.

Penny Egan CBE, Executive Director, US-UK Fulbright Commission, said: “As a bi-national organisation, we are of course pleased to see the feeling is mutual and more students pursuing educational exchange between the US and UK. 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.”

Paul Smith, Director of the British Council in the US, said: “The British Council Education Intelligence report, 'Broadening Horizons 2014: Embedding a Culture of Overseas Study,’ showed that 44 per cent of American students are interested in study abroad, but nowhere near that figure end up going. We’re delighted that more Americans are choosing to study in the UK than ever before, but there's still work to do if all of them are to realise their dreams. A stint at a British university or college provides lifelong rewards: warm friendships, a richer understanding of another culture, and a prestigious, rigorous academic experience that provides an edge in a competitive international job market. We want all US students to have the chance to benefit from studying overseas.”