To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether students attending United Kingdom universities are included in the immigration statistics; and if so, why.
27 November 2014
Published Home Office immigration statistics record data on all people coming to the UK or remaining here who are subject to immigration control. This includes all non-EU students.
International students are also included in net migration statistics that are produced by the independent Office for National Statistics (ONS). In line with the internationally agreed UN definition, these statistics define a migrant as someone changing their normal place of residence for more than a year. Students are therefore included in the same way as other migrants. Other countries, such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand also include students in their net migration figures.
The ONS has recently improved its methodology so that it is possible to better identify students in the emigration flows to give a more accurate measure of the contribution of students to overall net migration. In the last year, 121,000 non-EU students came to Britain to stay for more than 12 months, and the ONS estimates that only 51,000 left the country.
All migrants who are in the UK for 12 months or more have an impact on our communities, infrastructure and public services. Changing the way we measure migration would not make any difference to our student migration policy. There is no cap on the number who can come to the UK. Those who are sponsored by a reputable institution, have the right qualifications and sufficient funds to support themselves and can speak adequate English can study here. Britain remains the second most popular destination for international higher education students. The latest figures show visa applications from university students increased by 2%, and visa applications for the Russell Group universities are up 4% for the year ending September 2014.