Number of Americans at UK universities grows faster than Chinese

HESA is reporting a record 4,800 US students studied at UK universities for their first degrees in 2014-15, marking an approximate five per cent increase over the previous year. 

From 2013-14 to 2014-15, the total number of Americans enrolled at UK universities (16,865) increased at a faster rate (2.3%) than that of Chinese (1.9%) and Indian (-7.2%) students. 

CAS data shows a 38% increase in US applicants for UK courses since 2012

  • In 2014-15 there were 2.3% more US students at UK universities than 2013-14, compared to a 1.9% increase in Chinese students over the same period, according to a recent HESA report.
  • The HESA data reveals a record 4,800 American students studied for first degrees at UK universities in 2014-15, representing a five per cent increase over the previous year.
  • New UCAS January 2016 deadline data shows a six per cent increase in number of US applicants since 2015, to an all time high of 3,260.
  • 20 UK universities now use the Common Application admissions portal familiar to US high school students.

HESA is reporting a record 4,800 US students studied at UK universities for their first degrees in 2014-15, marking an approximate five per cent increase over the previous year. From 2013-14 to 2014-15, the total number of Americans enrolled at UK universities (16,865) increased at a faster rate (2.3%) than that of Chinese (1.9%) and Indian (-7.2%) students.

New data released by UCAS shows an approximate six per cent increase since 2015 in the number of US applicants applying by the main January deadline for undergraduate courses in the UK (a record 3,260, applicants compared to 3,080). Since 2012 there has been an approximate 38% increase in Americans applying to UK universities through UCAS.

Eight more UK universities than last year’s twelve are now accepting applications through the Common Application, a US university admissions portal, making it even easier for Americans to submit applications for undergraduate study in the UK. Four of the 20 universities are Scottish, including St Andrews, which hosted the most American students in 2014-15 (1,535). Scottish universities overall have witnessed a 25% increase in their US student intake since 2009-10, and in 2014-15 provided higher education for a quarter of all American students taking UK degrees.

Unlike their British peers, American students are able to use US federal student loans at many UK institutions, when scholarships are not available to fund their studies.

The news of an increase in US students pursuing UK study comes in the wake of a recent report showing the UK is now the largest European sender of international students to American universities, with a record 10,743 UK students studying in the US in 2014-15. 

Penny Egan CBE, Executive Director, US-UK Fulbright Commission, said: “Our mandate is to foster educational exchange between the US and the UK, so we are obviously pleased that student mobility is popular in both directions. This new data shows that the world-class education available in the UK is a huge draw to international students, and is in particular an increasingly popular option for 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”

Joey Kirk, International Recruitment Manager (Americas), University of Glasgow, said: “Scotland's historic 4-year university model, on which the US higher education system is based, has helped to make it one of the most popular destinations outside the US. American students choose Scotland for many reasons, from lower costs of tuition to family connections. That being said, the one reason consistently mentioned is the culture and people. Scotland is welcoming and appreciative of its international students and, as an American living here, I couldn't agree more.”

Pat Mathewson, American University of St Andrews alumnus and Students’ Association President, 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.”