The government has refused to remove international students from its’ annual immigration quotas, despite claims by the Prime Minister that students were ‘welcome’ during his recent visit to India.
MP’s and academic institutions have repeatedly called on the coalition to make it clear that there will not be a limit on the number of foreign students who can study in the UK.
The government however, is to stick to its definition of ‘migrant’ which includes students.
The number of immigrants coming to the UK will be cut by ‘tens of thousands’ over the coming years, under the government’s plan.
But a recent House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills committee reporter states: "The inclusion of overseas students at accredited institutions in the overall total is misleading. Furthermore, it runs the risk of undermining a world class export market."
Universities UK president Eric Thomas told the BBC he was concerned the government's response to the select committee "was not justified by the evidence".
He said the number of international students coming to the UK was already falling and that feedback from universities suggested a decline.
During his visit to India last week, Prime Minister David Cameron stressed last week that there would not be a cap on the number of genuine foreign students coming to the UK.
Last week the Prime Minister visited India, partly to drum up business for universities, and stressed there was no cap on the number of genuine foreign students.
General secretary of the academics' union, UCU, Sally Hunt told the BBC: "The government has made it very clear it wishes to reduce net migration, but its chaotic approach risks doing real damage to our standing on the global stage.
"Just last week the prime minister had to try and convince Indian students that Britain still welcomed foreign students.
"International students bring social and economic benefits to the country and the government could have sent a bold message today that British universities are open for business. Sadly, it is once again pandering to a domestic audience in a desperate effort to sound tough on immigration."
Figures released earlier this year showed that the number of Indian students enrolled at British universities fell by nearly a quarter last year following the introduction of more stringent rules on student visas.
Fewer than 30,000 students from India were studying at UK higher education institutions in 2011/12, compared with just under 40,000 in the previous year.
There was also a 13.4 per cent drop in the number of Pakistani students at British universities year-on-year, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS