Theresa May refuses to budge on student migration

Catherine Neilan
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The ONS revealed last week that just 4,600 students overstayed their visa last year (Source: Getty)

Theresa May has denied exaggerating the numbers of student migrants overstaying their visas while home secretary, insisting the figure has come down because of government policies.

Last week it emerged that far from the tens of thousands that May had claimed remained in the UK after their studies, just 4,600 did so. The revelation has prompted widespread criticism of the government's handling of student migration, with calls across the board for a rethink on the position.

But during her Japan visit the Prime Minister indicated there would be no change, insisting that she had not got the original numbers wrong.

May said: "The figures that we have looked at in the past are the ONS figures. But what is clear that it is action that we have taken as a government that has had an impact on students. We now see more students leaving the United Kingdom after they have completed their degree.

"Previously we saw significant numbers staying. We have taken action to root out abuse in the system. That is why we see great numbers of students complying with our regulations."

The government has recently commissioned a review by the independent Migration Advisory Committee into the economic impact foreign students have on the UK. It is widely hoped that this might form the basis of a policy u-turn, amid claims the current approach risks damaging the £25bn industry.

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