New Data Confirms Long-Anticipated Rise in British Applications to US Universities

Rising tuition fees and limited places at UK universities prompt British students to consider the option to study across the pond

• New Data: 30% more British students took US university admissions exams in 2010-11
• Traffic to the College Board’s US university planning website up by over 16%
• Data confirms anecdotal evidence that rising tuition fees and limited places at UK universities would prompt students to consider US study
• Top American universities report dramatic rise in British student applications for entry this autumn

New data released today suggests a sharp increase in UK students applying to American universities.

The vast majority of US universities require students to sit the SAT or ACT test as part of their entry requirements for undergraduate study. Registrations for both tests reached record levels in the UK during the 2010-11 academic year, indicating increasing numbers of British students are not just considering US study but are actively pursuing applications to US universities.

The College Board, which offers the SAT (the most widely-administered US college entrance exam in the UK), reported over a 30% increase in the number of UK students taking the exam since 2008. This represents more than 10,000 test takers. The ACT reported a 29% increase in 2010-11 compared to a 23% increase the year prior.

During the 2010-11 academic year, traffic from the UK to the College Board’s college planning website,, increased an impressive 16.4% (from 588,609 unique visitors in 2009-10 to 685,113 in 2010-11). England, where tuition is slated to rise next year, represented the vast majority (95%) of that traffic, with unique visitors to from England growing almost 19%. Page views within the College Board website from IP addresses in the UK also grew dramatically (25%) year-over-year. The ACT has reported a 24% increase in web traffic to their student site this year compared to last year.

The new data confirms what experts have long anticipated and anecdotal evidence suggested: that rising tuition fees and limited places at UK universities have left many students searching for viable alternatives to UK universities, including the option of studying in the US.

Top American universities also have confirmed with the US-UK Fulbright Commission that have received record-breaking numbers of applications from British students. Harvard experienced a 41% increase in applications in 2010-11, with Yale reporting a 23% jump. The University of Pennsylvania, which like Harvard and Yale is an Ivy League institution, observed a 50% increase in applications coming from the UK and also noted that the calibre of students submitting applications was particularly strong.

“This new data is the first to confirm what our advisors have been seeing on the ground. Our annual university fair – USA College Day - and workshops were packed last year; our website traffic was up; and our advising centre was buzzing with students. However, this is the first time we can say with certainty that the floodgates have opened up and significantly more British students are seriously considering studying in the US for their undergraduate degrees. We look forward to supporting interested students through our advisory service on US-UK exchange opportunities.”
-Lauren Welch, Director Fulbright Advisory Service

Enquiries, Interviews & Student Case Studies:
US-UK Fulbright Commission - EducationUSA
Lauren Welch, Director, Fulbright Advisory Service
020 7498 4019 or 075 3371 4960

Notes to Editors:

About the US-UK Fulbright Commission:
Created by treaty on 22 September 1948, the US-UK Fulbright Commission is a bilateral organisation that fosters mutual cultural understanding through educational exchange between both nations. We fulfil this mission in two ways: through our prestigious scholarship programme and advisory service.

About the Fulbright Advisory Service:
The Fulbright Advisory Service provides information on and promotes US-UK exchange. As part of the Education USA network of over 450 advising centres worldwide, our advisors are the UK's official source of information on educational exchange opportunities in the US. We offer a wide range of information and events to support students, parents and advisors including our annual USA College Day university fair (1 October 2011), workshops on the American university application process, advisor training and assistance with email, phone and in-person enquiries.

Setting-up Interviews & Student Case Studies:
Our staff can provide case studies of a wide variety of British students currently in the US and/or applying this year and arrange interviews.  We are happy to set-up interviews with our staff, including Lauren Welch, the Director of the Fulbright Advisory Service, and contacts at American universities and British schools supporting applicants to the US.

US University Entrance Exams:
The vast majority of US universities require students to sit for a standardised admissions test as part of their entry requirements for undergraduate study: either the SAT (administered by College Board) or the ACT. However, the most competitive US universities require students to take 2-3 SAT Subject Tests in addition to either the SAT or the ACT with Writing. More information about the SAT is available at  More information about the ACT is available at

Fast Facts on US-UK Exchange:
• According to the Institute for International Education’s Open Doors report in November 2010, a record 8,861 UK students studied at American universities in 2009-10, marking a 2% increase from the previous year.
• These students would have applied to American universities in autumn 2008. This is in contrast to a 4% decrease in European students studying in the States that year including a 12% decrease at the undergraduate level.
• The majority (47.6%, 4,217 students) of students study at the undergraduate level, followed by the postgraduate level (28.3%, 2,468 students), non-degree programmes – including short-term and visiting student schemes (16.4%, 1,457 students) and OPT (Optional Practical Training, post-study work) scheme (7.7%, 8,861).
• In 2008-09, the UK hosted 31,342 or 12% of all American short-term study abroad students, holding its place as the top destination worldwide. HESA estimates an additional 15,060 American students pursued full degrees at British universities in 2009-10, marking a 5% rise over the previous year.
• Along with the above mentioned Ivy league institutions (Yale, Harvard and Penn) the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) also reported an increase in UK applications, however their exact number was not available at time of release.

Fact Facts on College Board:
• College Board is a not-for-profit education membership organisation that offers the SAT amongst its core programmes.
• The SAT is the most widely-administered US college entrance exam in the UK, with several thousand UK students taking the test each year.
• Has over 30 test centres in more than 20 cities across the UK.

Fact Facts on ACT:
• The ACT is not an aptitude test, but rather a curriculum based exam.
• Has 4 test centres in the UK (3 in England, 1 in Scotland)
• The ACT website includes college and career planning advice.