Published on February 18, 2014 | by Callum McCarthy


Record number of US students choosing UK

Group of students

American students choose London to experience studying abroad, whilst avoiding language barriers. [Flickr: Dimitiris Vlakios]

More American students than ever before enrolled on undergraduate degrees in the UK in 2012–13, despite overall international student numbers falling in the same period.

A record 4,346 US students applied for full undergraduate degrees according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), a rise of 28 per cent from 2008.

This is despite the overall number of undergraduate students dropping 17 per cent in 2012-13.

That number is set to continue rising according to UCAS, as the number of Americans applying to UK universities in 2014 has also increased.

According to British Council director Paul Smith, “US students choosing a British undergraduate degree have the benefit of not only of an excellent education, but also an international experience.”


The UK also continues to be the most popular place for Americans to study abroad, but the prospect of an “excellent education” is not the only thing that attracts them.

The British Council say that other reasons for Americans choosing the UK include “the strong reputation of the British higher education system, the shorter length of the degrees, and increased competitiveness on the job market.”

Despite the British Council’s earnest view, there are some other external factors that attract US students to the UK.

“I know so many people who came to London because they wanted to go abroad but didn’t want to have to learn another language,” said Colleen McCroskey, an American student who studied at LCC. “Also, our government would never give anyone a free computer.”

US students can also enjoy a different way of approaching higher education, as US colleges are far more intensive and socially insular than UK universities.

“At UAL, university seems like less than 50 per cent of your life,” McCroskey said. “You have freedom to live your own life and develop outside of education. It brings a sense of maturity to learning. When you’re at college in the United States, you’re at college. That’s all you do.”


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