Record numbers of students are shunning British universities to study in the United States, according to research. The number of students crossing the Atlantic increased by four per cent last year to 8,701, it was disclosed.

Many are being tempted to elite Ivy League universities with generous bursaries not available at British higher education institutions.

Some top American universities are already using recruitment agencies to entice the brightest students overseas.

According to a study published by the US-based Institute of International Education, the top destinations for British students were Harvard, Central Florida, New York University, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania.

The disclosure follows claims last week that the academic “brain drain” could increase in coming years unless British institutions are allowed to charge similar tuition fees as those in the US. Some Ivy League universities charge as much as £20,000-a-year, although many also offer lucrative scholarships.

Researchers said Britain still remained the top destination for Americans studying abroad but the rise in numbers was slower.

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Source: Telegraph, by Graeme Paton, education editor, published: 11:58AM GMT 16 Nov 2009