Friday 30 January 2015


New UCAS data details reveals a 5% increase in US applicants for courses starting 2015-16

  • UCAS is reporting a sharp five per cent increase in US applicants
  • Over the past five academic years, the number of US first degree students has risen by a third, according to a new HESA report
  • Record 4,555 American students studying full undergraduate degrees at British universities in 2013-14, representing an approximate five per cent increase over the previous year

 New data released by UCAS 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 2015-16. Undergraduate study in the UK was already growing in popularity amongst US students with steady increases in recent years. However, this latest data shows a record breaking level of interest.


This rising trend amongst US students is evident in data recently released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). HESA is reporting 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.


What’s fueling this growth spurt? 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% increase in their US student intake over recent years.


The news of an increase in US students pursuing UK study 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. (See release for more information: Record Breaking Year: Number of UK Students Heading to the US at 10 Year High).


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.”


What attracts US students to the UK? Key factors are 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.


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.”


Pat Mathewson, American Undergraduate Student at University of St Andrews, said: “I chose St Andrews because of the education it offered above and beyond a typical degree. Not only did it present the opportunity to study in a foreign country, but to be immersed in a truly international community. And while I can say my time at our ancient university has been exceptional, the rigorous and challenging academics have played but one part of that. It has been all the time outside of the classroom, filled with unlikely friendships of those who grew up halfway around the globe, that has taught me the most and will stay with me for years to come.” 

Notes to Editor

About the US-UK Fulbright Commission:

The US-UK Fulbright Commission ( fosters cultural understanding between the US and UK. This it achieves through a wide range of postgraduate and postdoctoral scholarships for US and UK citizens and through its advisory service. The global Fulbright awards programme is one of the world’s most prestigious, operating in over 150 countries and has over 300,000 alumni. Fulbright is funded by the US and UK governments and a range of partners including leading US and UK universities, professional bodies and leading charities.


Fulbright and the British Council are happy to assist with enquiries related to this press release and other articles on US-UK exchange, by providing facts and figures, commenting on trends, providing case studies and arranging interviews with staff or students.


About the British Council:

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide.

We work in more than 100 countries and our 8,000 staff – including 2,000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the arts and delivering education and society programmes. We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A core publicly-funded grant provides 20 per cent of our turnover which last year was £864 million. The rest of our revenues are earned from services which customers around the world pay for, such as English classes and taking UK examinations, and also through education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and supports prosperity and security for the UK and globally. 


For more information, please visit: You can also keep in touch with the British Council through and



Data is from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) Student Record 2008-09 to 2013-14 and from UCAS.


  • In total, 16,485 US students at all levels attended university study in the UK in 2013-14. This figure represents a 15 per cent rise over the past 5 years (from 2008-09 to 2013-14).
  • 9,550 American students studied at postgraduate level in the UK, alongside 4,555 Americans taking their first degree in 2013-14. 2,380 American students were recorded as ‘Other Undergraduate’ by HESA.
  • The top 10 British universities hosting American students includes University of St Andrews, University of Edinburgh, University of Oxford, University College London, University of Westminster, University of Cambridge, London School of Economics and Political Science, King’s College London, University of Glasgow, and University of the Arts, London.
  • The UK is the top destination for short-term exchange as well, with over 36,210 Americans completing a summer, semester or year programme at British universities in 2012-13 (IIE Open Doors Report, 2014).
  • In 2013-14, 10,191 British students pursued study in the US, an approximate eight per cent rise on the previous year, the largest year-on-year increase in over a decade (IIE Open Doors Report, 2014). (See release from 17 November 2014:Record Breaking Year: Number of UK Students Heading to the US at 10 Year High).







Percentage change from 2014-15 to 2015-16

US applicants as of main January Application deadline








Level of study





Percentage change 2008-09 to 2013-14

Percentage change 2012-13 to 2013-14

First degree








Jamie Dunn

Manager, Advising and Marketing

US-UK Fulbright Commission

+44 (0) 207 498 4019 or +44 (0) 759 691 0115

Tim Sowula

Senior Press Officer

British Council

+44 (0) 207 389 4871 or +44 (0) 777 171 8135