Big rise in US students earns universities £300m

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The Independent Online

British universities are enjoying a boom in demand from American teenagers that is earning them £300m a year extra in fees.

British universities are enjoying a boom in demand from American teenagers that is earning them £300m a year extra in fees.

The 30 per cent surge in demand from American undergraduates over the past four years follows a marketing drive by the British Council in the United States.

Officials are using the internet to break into the huge American market for students, promoting one-year masters and MBA courses.

The biggest increase in demand is for places at Oxbridge and London, where students flock to one-year courses at such institutions as the London School of Economics.

But British Council staff say universities across the country are attracting American students, including St Andrews, which has had scores of inquiries, mainly from young women keen to go to the college where Prince William is to study art history next year.

Chelsea Clinton's ambition to follow her father to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar has also produced a surge of interest, British Council officials said. Jenny Scott, director of education promotion at the British embassy in Washington, said: "It was very difficult to penetrate the US market, because of its size, but with the internet it has really opened up. There has never been a better time to market universities. International experience is what employers like to see in students who apply."

Meanwhile, an Ivy League college this week mounted a counter-drive to poach talented British youngsters who have been educated at state schools but rejected by Oxford and Cambridge. Dartmouth, in New Hampshire, wants teenagers who are expected to get three As in their A levels. Karl Furstenberg, dean of admissions, said: "We want to recruit people who will be future world leaders." His drive follows the case of Laura Spence, the state-educated pupil turned down by Oxford but accepted by Harvard for a different subject.

Mr Furstenberg said students such as Miss Spence would be welcomed. Those who could not afford the $35,000 (£24,600) a year fees would receive help from the college's endowment fund. Aid varies according to family income.

Colleges such as Dartmouth have increased overseas recruitment to improve their performance. They are also recruiting professors globally, offering $100,000 and more.

Americans are mystified by British universities such as Oxford and Cambridge that recruit half their students from fee-paying schools representing 10 per cent of the population. Mr Furstenberg said: "It doesn't seem right to us. We're interested in talented students and, if English universities are turning their backs on those students, Dartmouth is very happy to hear from them."

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