Theresa May 'preparing to take international students out of immigration figures'

Posted On: 
2nd January 2018

Theresa May is reportedly facing a humiliating climbdown on including international students in official immigration figures.

Theresa May looks set to cave on her long-standing opposition and take students out of the migration figures

According to the Daily Mail, the Prime Minister is preparing to back down on her long-standing opposition to the move, in order to avoid an embarrassing Commons defeat on the upcoming Immigration Bill.

Amber Rudd, Philip Hammond and Boris Johnson are among the senior ministers understood to support a redefinition.

Government launches study into impact of international students

Public opposed to reducing international student numbers - poll

Crackdown on international students could cost UK £2bn a year - thinktank

"It is inevitable that someone will bring forward an amendment on this, and it is very difficult to see how we could defeat it," a government source told the paper. 

Removing students from would have a significant impact on the headline net immigration figure, which was 230,000 in the year to June 2017 - still well short of the Tory aim to bring the number down to the "tens of thousands".

Scottish Conservative MPs have already made clear their support for a change, as has the party's leader north of the border, Ruth Davidson.

Ms Davidson underlined her own views in a series of tweets this evening.

She said: "Good. Including students in the figure is distortive, counterproductive and sends out entirely the wrong signals. I hope this change happens soon.  



Another Whitehall source told the Mail that British ambassadors have also apparently been lobbying for the change.

"If we are going to make a success of Brexit and make a reality of the idea of “Global Britain”, then we have to be more open to the world," they said. 

"That is the message the PM is getting from ambassadors."