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Why are more students crossing the Atlantic for their studies?

by the Fulbright Commission

Why study a PhD in the USA?

Report reveals US-UK educational exchange at all-time high

  • Data reveals record number of UK students studying in the US in 2008-09 and a 4% increase on the previous year
  • UK remains the top destination worldwide for US study abroad students
  • Interest growing amongst US students in completing full bachelors and postgraduate degrees in the UK
  • Total number of international students in the US increased by 7.7% to 671,616

The Open Doors 2009 report indicates a surge in educational exchange between the US and UK, with record numbers of British students studying at American universities and vice versa.

This increase in US-UK educational exchange comes at a time when universities on both sides of the Atlantic are ramping up their internationalisation and recruitment strategies, and as a recent Pew Research Center survey finds UK public opinion of the US and its President continues to improve. It is anticipated educational exchange in both countries will continue to rise in the coming years. In addition to the UK’s PMI 2 initiative aiming to attract 70,000 more international students to British universities, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have indicated the importance of educational exchange in America’s international agenda.

For many years, the UK has been in the top 15 countries of origin for international students in America. The 2009 Open Doors report reveals a record 8,701 UK students studying in the US in 2008-09, marking a 4% increase from the previous year. Included in this figure are a 3% rise for participation in undergraduate study and 21% rise for non-degree programmes (short-term or visiting student schemes). The top five American universities receiving British students include: Harvard University, University of Central Florida, New York University, Columbia University and University of Pennsylvania.

According to the report, the UK remains the top destination worldwide for US study abroad students. British universities hosted 33,353 American study abroad students in 2007-08, representing an increase of 2% and a remarkable 12.7% of all US students abroad. Recent data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and Universities & Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) confirm that this growing interest amongst US students also extends to full degree study. In 2007-08, 12,630 Americans pursued bachelors or postgraduate degrees at British universities, a 2.4% rise. Further, as of the October 2009 deadline, 12.2% more US students had applied for entry in 2010 than the previous year.

Overall, both the US and UK have seen record student mobility figures this year. In 2008-09, the total international student enrolment in the US rose by 8% to an all-time high of 671,616, whilst HESA data show the enrolment of EU and international students grew by 5% to 341,790 in 2007-08.

Commenting on the report, Penny Egan, Executive Director of the US-UK Fulbright Commission, said:
‘Mutual cultural exchange is at the heart of the work of the US-UK Fulbright Commission, and we welcome the increased mobility of students to both countries. Educational exchange between the US and UK remains strong due to the high quality and prestige associated with both systems of higher education, as well as recent efforts of universities on both sides of the Atlantic internationalise their campuses’.

Lauren Welch, Head of Advising of the US-UK Fulbright Commission, said:
‘With attendance soaring at our USA College Day fair in recent years and a record number of applications for our prestigious UK Fulbright Awards, Fulbright has anticipated this increased interest in US study for some time. In addition to improvements to the US visa application process and expanding international recruitment efforts by US universities, we suspect there has been a so-called ‘Obama Effect’ on international student interest in the US and a growing recognition amongst UK students and parents of the value of a more international education’.

About the US-UK Fulbright Commission:

The US-UK Fulbright Commission was created by treaty on 22 September 1948 and offers prestigious awards for postgraduate study, research and lecturing in the US and UK. During the last six decades more than 27,000 Americans and Britons have crossed the Atlantic on a Fulbright Award. Famous names such as Sylvia Plath and Milton Friedman, Shirley Williams and Ian Rankin are alumni of the programme.

The Commission also offers an advisory service providing a wide range of information and events to support approximately 5,000 students, parents and advisors interested in US study annually. Additionally, we offer a survey for departing UK students each summer in partnership with the US Embassy London. Our advisors are part of the EducationUSA network of over 450 advising centres worldwide and are the only official source of unbiased information on US study in the UK.

Reproduced by kind permission of Fulbright Commission.

The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of FindAPhD.

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