More than 100 MPs from all parties have written to the Prime Minister urging her to drop for "illogicial decision" to maintain international students in the net inward migration target.
A letter written by Labour MP Catherine West and signed by MPs from the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, DUP, SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party, slammed Theresa May for persisting with her policy.
City A.M. understands even May's cabinet is against her on this policy, which she has pushed for since her time as home secretary.
In her letter, West argues that the embattled Prime Minister "could easily change this rule with the stroke of a pen, but chooses not to in order to save face, risking the status of British universities and a valuable part of our economy.”
She adds: "If we want our hgher eucation sector to remain world leaders, the government must drop the illogical decision to include international students in the net migration target. The numerical and anecdotal evidence all points in one direction: the huge benefit brought to our country by international students.”
West cites recent figures suggesting that student overstaying is far lower than previously thought, while Oxford Economics data actually argues international students generate £25.8m a year for the British economy. She also notes that 73 per cent of the British public would like to see the same number or more international students coming to study in the UK.
"Despite the weight of evidence, the gvernment’s inclination appears to be to make it even harder for international students to come to the UK. This approach puts at risk the UK’s world-renowned universities and academia," the letter continues.
"Given that most international students return home following their studies and that the UK’s higher education sector is a big selling point, it is becoming ever more logical not only to take international students out of the net migration target, but to put additional policies in place to attract international students and to show the world that the UK is open for business, and welcoming of talent, wherever it comes from."