Changes ahead for Tier 4 Student Route

Migration Watch UK said the Government must tighten up the student system despite a warning from almost 70 chancellors, governors and university presidents that crackdowns could lead to foreign students going elsewhere, costing the British economy billions.

Study remains the most common reason for migrants coming to the UK and the row comes after the chancellors wrote to David Cameron last month, encouraging him to do more to boost the number of overseas students even further.

Britain attracts around one in 10 students who study outside their home country, generating around £8 billion a year, "with forecasts suggesting that export earnings from this activity could more than double by 2025", they told the Prime Minister.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said that while the report made important points, it was "wrong in calling for international students to be counted within the UK's migration figures".

"The chancellors were calling for the Government to remove international students from net migration figures in order to make a clear distinction between temporary and permanent migrants for the UK's own internal policy purposes," she said. "International students come to the UK for a period, then they go home. The small numbers who wish to stay after their studies must then apply for another visa. If that application is unsuccessful, they must return home."

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: "We are glad that Migration Watch agree with us that overseas students should remain part of the net migration figures and that action needs to be taken to prevent abuse of student visas. That is why we are introducing a raft of changes to the student visa route."

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