The UK Government plans to exclude top US universities including Yale, Stanford and Cornell from an internet register of "approved institutions" unless they gain accreditation in Britain, it has emerged.
The register was launched last year as part of a Home Office clampdown on bogus colleges and as a resource to help international students decide where to study in Britain. It may now be revised so that institutions accredited only by certain UK quality watchdogs are included.
If approved, the move would leave more than 70 US institutions that run study-abroad programmes in Britain out in the cold unless they gain accreditation by the Quality Assurance Agency, the Adult Learning Inspectorate or Accreditation UK.
The proposals have been condemned as "myopic" by the American Association of Study Abroad Programmes in the UK (Aasap), whose members are automatically included, and "xenophobic" by Ukcosa, the Council for International Education.
Laurie Koehler, Aasap executive officer, said: "There is a risk that institutions and students will vote with their feet and go elsewhere."