Harvard University – ranked the best in the world – has seen the number of applications from Britain rise by more than a third in just 12 months, figures show.
Other elite Ivy League institutions, including Yale, Columbia and Cornell, have also reported an increase in demand.
It is believed that the cap on places for home students at English universities – coupled with the prospect of £9,000 fees from next year – is fuelling the rise.
The disclosure comes just a week after one of Europe’s leading universities – Maastricht in the Netherlands – reported a 10-fold rise in the number of applications from Britain. Some 400 people have applied so far this year compared with just 35 in 2010.
A spokesman for the Fulbright Commission, which awards scholarships to US universities, said: “The word is definitely getting out that this year is an unprecedented opportunity for US universities to recruit British students.”
According to figures, Harvard had around 500 British applications to start courses this autumn, up from around 370 for last year – a 35 per cent increase.Yale enrolled 36 British students onto undergraduate courses last year, up from 25 in 2009 – a 44 per cent rise. Five years ago, in 2006, just 15 students enrolled.
Some 197 students from England and Wales alone have applied to start courses at Cornell this autumn, up from 176 last year.
Information from Columbia University shows that 178 British students enrolled in 2009, up from 164 in 2008 and 151 in 2003.