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Theresa May hints that students could be removed from migration figures

3 min read

International students could be excluded from UK immigration numbers, the Prime Minister has suggested.

Speaking to reporters in China, the Mrs May appeared to go back on the UK’s policy of including foreign university-goers in net immigration figures, conceding that students had little long-term impact on migration.  

‘When I was Home Secretary there was a lot of abuse taking place in colleges. Something like 900 colleges no longer bring in overseas students because all too often they were being brought in to work rather than for education.’

‘Once you take that abuse out of the system, students coming in for the period of their education and then leaving actually wash through the numbers. They don’t have a long term impact on the numbers.’

As Home Secretary, Mrs May took a tough line against so-called bogus colleges which admitted students on to phony courses.

However, the Prime Minister stopped short of advocating an immediate end to the policy.

‘The reason students have been in the numbers is because it’s an international definition of a migrant,’ she said.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd is believed to be a critic of the policy. Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson is another opponent, Tweeting that inclusion is ‘distortive, counterproductive and sends out entirely the wrong signals’.

The Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA) estimates that just under 440,000 students from abroad study in the UK, with 90,000 per year opting to remain in the UK once their studies end.

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