Prime Minister Theresa May has been encouraged to exclude international students from government immigration figures by several high profile Conservative MPs.
Although the Prime Minister is resolute in leaving the system unchanged, it is likely that this spring she will come under pressure when MPs put forward an amendment to the current immigration bill.
High-profiled MPs like Nicky Morgan, who is in charge of the Treasury select committee, Tom Tugendhat, who runs foreign affairs and Bob Neill, Chairman of the Justice Select Committee, are among those suggesting May should adjust current policy.
Individuals against the policy are worried about the Conservative’s target to bring the national immigration figure down to under 100,000. According to Universities UK, between 2014-15, more than 437,000 international students helped to generate over £25.8bn for the economy.
Nicky Morgan has suggested that even people who pushed for immigration caps or limits to free movement failed to consider that students ought not to be included in any crackdown.
Morgan said students are part of the “global Britain” brand, and added: “People realise that students are in a group of their own,” noting how the education sector is an important British export.
Morgan also pointed out that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) could be made to draw up figures with or without students, and commented that the latter could be used for any political means.
Health select committee chair Sarah Wolloston said: “I strongly support and have always supported taking students out of the immigration numbers. It is an important principle and sends a clear message that Britain wants to welcome students and they are a part of our culture.”
In spite of the view of senior cabinet members of parliament, such as Boris Johnson, who supports the move, Theresa May is still resisting making the change and believes that students should be included in the figures.
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister added that the international definition of an immigrant is someone who lives in a country for a period of more than 12 months.