Americans have long had a love affair with Scotland, being particularly fond of its golf and whisky, but now it seems that US universities are after Scottish students as well, writes Paul Hill.
An independent school for boys in Edinburgh, Merchiston Castle School, will host a "College Day USA" event later this month for teenagers interested in studying in the US. It is the first recruitment event by US universities in Scotland.
The event will be followed by the traditional College Day event in London's Covent Garden in October, at which 120 American universities will be represented.
The Education Advisory Service (EAS) at the Fulbright Commission, a charity that encourages students from both the US and the UK to study abroad, said the fact that English universities would be charging tuition fees of up to Pounds 3,000 a year next year was encouraging students to consider the US instead.
Scottish universities will not charge top-up fees, but up to 7,000 Scottish students choose to study in England every year. The EAS believes that many prospective students in this category could be persuaded to try the US.
The need to hold an event in Scotland was underlined by the "large numbers" of Scots who had travelled long distances to attend College Day in London last year, the EAS said.
Merchiston was chosen as the venue after the school approached the commission with the idea of holding a recruitment event in Edinburgh.
Anthony Nemecek, director of the EAS, said: "The service has seen a 500 per cent increase in queries about studying in the US since January 2003. Last year, we dealt with more than 700,000 queries.
"The 2004 fair attracted more than 3,500 participants, almost double the numbers compared with 2003. We will not be surprised, based on interest expressed and pre-registration numbers, if that figure doubled once again."
Andrew Hunter, the headmaster of Merchiston, was unavailable for comment.
* The United States Achievers Programme, a scheme devised in 1999 to help students from Third World countries apply for university places in America, has been extended to UK students.
The programme aims to match British students to US universities. The cost of the application and registration process is covered.