Migration Watch report wrong to count foreign students as migrants

Migration Watch report wrong to count foreign students as migrants, expert says

21 July 2017

The government has come under increasing pressure to remove foreign students from its net migration target. The International Passenger Survey used by the Home Office found a net migration average of 75,000 non-EU students annually over the last five years. The issue concerns sectors like higher education that fear if these students remain included in the government’s net migration target, then they could be cut because of its commitment to reducing net migration by more than half to under 100,000.

In a new report, Migration Watch urges the government to stand firm claiming that too many students were being granted settlement after their studies. Instead of temporary visitors receiving an education and then returning to home countries, over 20,000 each year have been permitted to stay after their studies raising the concern that a student visa can be a ticket to long-term residency.

Professor Thom Brooks, Dean of Durham Law School and a former international student, said the report’s conclusions lack support: ‘Students granted a right to stay in Britain after their education are no longer students. Like me, they will have to receive a new non-student right to settle such as a work visa. A student’s status is fixed and temporary – they should be exempt from government cuts on migration’.

Brooks argues that any concerns about settlement are a separate issue. ‘Those individuals staying are former students. Migration Watch might be for reducing the number of people who come to live in Britain, but their focus should be on those pathways to permanent residency – not students who contribute to our economy and society that must acquire a different non-student status to stay. In other words, their concern isn’t with students, but non-students and their conclusions are not supported by the evidence they provide’.