The Home Office has commissioned an independent study into the social and economic impact of overseas students on the UK.
The impact that students from both EU and non-EU countries have on the labour market and economy will be considered, alongside the impact of tuition fees on the economy and education sector, the role students play in contributing to local economic growth and the impact their recruitment has on domestic students.
The research, which will be conducted by the Migration Advisory Committee, comes amid growing calls for students to be exempted from migration targets, with the likes of Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson publicly questioning the government's current stance.
Alongside the commission, the UK’s first publication of exit checks data will provide a comprehensive account of the compliance of international students. In addition, the Office of National Statistics is releasing a report as part of its ongoing programme of work looking at the impact of students on net migration.
Figures out today show that the number of people coming to the UK for study fell last year. Total net immigration also fell, largely because of an increase in the number of EU workers returning to their homes in the wake of the referendum result.
Home secretary Amber Rudd said: "We understand how important students from around the world are to our higher education sector, which is a key export for our country, and that’s why we want to have a robust and independent evidence base of their value and the impact they have.
Immigration minister Brandon Lewis added: "We have always been clear that our commitment to reducing net migration to sustainable levels does not detract from our determination to attract international students from around the world.
"Since 2010 we have clamped down on abuse, while increasing the number of genuine students that come to the UK from around the world.
The report should be completed by next September.
Neil Carberry, CBI's managing director for people and infrastructure, welcomed the move.
“Being open to students and skilled workers from around the world is important for the success of the UK. Higher education is a key sector of our economy - one where we are truly world-leading," he said.
“Business stands ready to help the Migration Advisory Committee with its work as the UK government forms a new immigration system that recognises public concerns while meeting the UK’s economic needs.”