Cambridge and Oxford face increasing competition from Ivy League universities as more and more British students are attracted to the idea of studying in the US.
There are currently 4,352 undergraduates from the UK in America, an increase of 3% from last year.
Harry Potter actress Emma Watson’s decision to attend Ivy League university Brown in Rhode Island, despite being offered a place at Cambridge to read English Literature, reflects the growing popularity of the American higher education system.
Fellow Brown student Henry Peck was educated in Britain but, like Watson, decided that he would be better suited to the US university system. Speaking to The Cambridge Student (TCS), he commented: “One of the most appealing points of studying at Brown is the amount of resources available to students.”
Another student, Laura Tunbridge, applied to Yale having attended a grammar school in England. Talking to TCS, she said: “Yale follows a liberal arts programme so there are really no boundaries in terms of exploring a breadth of interests. I can study any subject I am interested in over the next four years, as long as I have the majority of my courses in my chosen major.
“Another big draw for me was the financial aid available to students. I have 94% of my expenses paid for me by the university so it is cheaper for me to study here than it would be to study at home.”
Ivy League universities are well known for being far wealthier than their British counterparts.
Harvard’s endowment fund is estimated to be worth in the region of £15 billion. Yale is similarly wealthy, with an endowment fund of £9.5 billion.
Cambridge’s endowment fund, valued at £1.2 billion, is small by comparison. This means that US universities are more able to offer substantial financial support to students.
Harvard anticipates awarding nearly $147 million (£92 million) in need-based scholarship assistance to its students in 2009-10.
Families with incomes under $60,000 (£38,000) are not expected to pay anything towards a Harvard education.
On Monday, the President of Yale University gave a speech in which he said that within 25 years Chinese institutions could also rival Oxbridge.
Despite this, applications to Cambridge continue to rise and Cambridge is maintaining its place among the world’s top universities, ranked second only to Harvard.
Louise Floyd – News Reporter