Statistics released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency show 15,555 Americans were pursuing full degrees at British universities in 2010-11 – up by 3.3 per cent on the previous year.
Postgraduate study by US students also rose sharply up by 15.2 per cent in the two years from 2008-09.
The number of US students looks set to increase further this year after applications from the US and Canada rose by almost 10 per cent, up to 5,259 applicants for courses starting in autumn 2012.
US students currently constitute around 7 per cent of the international student body in the UK.
Penny Egan, executive director of the US-UK Fulbright Commission, said “Our press headlines are focused on the numbers of British students heading out to the US.
“But, in fact, British universities, which consistently feature alongside US universities at the top of the world league tables, are attracting American students in ever increasing numbers.
“This brings in significant overseas earnings, creates potential research collaborators and lifelong ambassadors for our higher education system. This is good news, for both countries”.
International students collectively added £9.6 billion to the UK economy in 2008-09, according to estimates by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
The attractions of UK universities for US students include lower fees, shorter degrees, the reputation of the British higher education system and the portability of US loans, which can be used to complete degrees abroad.
“Student mobility between the US and UK strengthens the special relationship between our two countries,” said Richard Everitt, deputy director of the British Council in the USA.
“What’s more, a British degree is a valuable asset in the US job market. Three-quarters of American employers consider UK degrees to be the same as or better than US degrees, according to new research carried out by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of the British Council.”