It's about 3,700 miles from Britain to Washington, but British universities, their traditions strong and their budgets cut by the government, are taking long looks across the Atlantic to find more students.

Many American colleges, with financial and academic problems of their own, are recruiting hard, too. But Tuesday night, Georgetown University President Timothy Healy gave a helping hand to what he called "an elder sister," the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

At a dinner Healy hosted in Georgetown's Riggs Library, high school administrators from the Washington area and a few from other places were regaled with tales of St. Andrews, founded on the North Sea coast in 1412, and were given a low-key but clear sales' pitch.

"We have a lot of traditions and an excellent education, too, from medieval history to semiconductors," said Anthony H.T. Levi, a professor of French literature at St. Andrews who is a visiting professor at Georgetown this year.

As to cost, Levi said that even with nonsubsidized tuition and two round-trip air fares from Washington, total expenses at St. Andrews would be about $10,000 next year for students in history, languages and other liberal arts subjects, and $12,000 for those in science.

Most selective private American universities are in the same range, though state colleges cost much less.

"I think we do offer many students a much better bet than what you find in the U.S.," Levi said. He said American high school graduates could enter the university's four-year program with a combined score of 1,200 (out of a possible 1,600) on the Scholastic Aptitude Test.

The evening included a speech by Celia Boddington, a recent graduate of St. Andrews whose account of student life was enthusiastically received by the audience.