Recruitment Trends and Tips for the UK

Trends - Opportunities - Marketing Tips


For many years, the UK has been in the top 15 countries of origin for international students in America. This year's Open Doors report states that the UK has become the number 1 European sender of students to US universities. Additionally, the report reveals a record 10,743 UK students pursuing university study in the US in 2014-15. 

For more information on trends in US-UK exchange, please see our press release on Open Doors 2015 or view the full report, as well as the IIE Atlas data on destinations of UK students.


This year is a unique time to recruit UK students to the US.There has been a tidal wave of increased interest in US study in recent years. Over the past 5 years there has been a 23% upsurge in UK students heading to the US at all levels of study, this makes 2016 a unique time to recruit UK students. 

Here are links to some recent press coverage:

Marketing Tips

  1. Be aware of the terminology differences between American and British English, as well as the application process for undergraduates via the UCAS common application system.
  2. Be able to explain the US application process in simple terms, knowing that it is longer and more complex than the UCAS undergraduate common application system to UK universities, whereby students submit one common application to up to 5 universities comprising academic results, 1 essay and 1 reference letter (without admissions tests). Graduate applications follow a more similar process to the US, but without admissions tests.
  3. Many prospective undergraduate students are interested in the liberal arts curriculum, interactive teaching style and flexibility of the US higher education system, relative to the UK system in which students choose a major at the point of application to the university. However, be prepared to explain the value of a well-rounded degree to students, and especially parents, accustomed to the depth of the A-levels and UK degrees. For students who know what they want to study, explain opportunities to specialise through minors or to complete an interdisciplinary experience through a double major.
  4. Prospective undergraduates are also aware of and excited by US university campus life, which they will have seen portrayed in the media. Highlight travel, voluntary work, university athletics, clubs and other extracurricular opportunities.
  5. At the graduate level, funding and research/teaching opportunities in the US are particularly attractive for UK students.
  6. Highlight the opportunity to work in the US both during and after studying.
  7. Rankings are particularly important in choosing a UK university. Know your university's ranking and be able to put it into the context of the scale of US higher education (4,500+ institutions vs. approximately 200 in the UK).
  8. If your institution is not a household name, demonstrate the quality of your programmes through the success of your graduates. What is your job placement rate? What is the average salary of graduates? Have graduates been able to secure quality internships or OPT placements, or even stayed on in the US beyond OPT? Do you have famous alumni or any UK alumni who have successfully entered the job market back home?
  9. Parents are involved in their student's decisions about higher education, especially if they are providing financial support. Focus on the points from 7-8, as well as the support you can provide their child through your student services and international student offices. Distance can also be an issue. Know the time and costs required to travel to the UK, as well as good times in the year for family visits.
  10. Do not underestimate the value of active recruitment through events such as USA College Day!

For more information on reasons UK students are interested in US study, please read the why study in the USA page for prospective undergraduate students and the why study in the USA page for prospective graduate students.