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UK immigration levels could be lower than previously thought, new border checks find | UK news | The Guardian

theguardian.com – UK news  UK immigration levels could be lower than previously thought, new border checks find. Fresh evidence that 97% of international students leave country after finishing studies, throwing previous figures into doubt 

Ninety-seven percent of international students leave the UK after finishing their studies, new border checks have reportedly found, suggesting levels of immigration in the UK are much lower than previously thought.

It has been claimed that tens of thousands of international students remain in the country illegally after completing their studies but new exit checks introduced last year found evidence to the contrary, the Telegraph reported.

Citing Whitehall sources, the newspaper said the overall net migration figure, which stands at 248,000 in the most recent estimate, could be tens of thousands lower after taking into account the new exit checks.

The figures are to be published on Thursday as the Home Office unveils separate plans to ask migration experts to examine the impact of international students on the UK job market.

The migration advisory committee will be asked to examine the effect that both EU and non-EU students have on the labour market and economy while in the UK and will report back next September.

Announcing the report, Amber Rudd, the home secretary, said the government wanted to keep the door open to genuine students but would crack down on abuse of visas by poor-quality institutions.

The committee will be asked to examine the impact of tuition fees and other spending by international students on the local and national economy, as well as the role students play in contributing to economic growth and the quality of education for domestic students.

Rudd said the UK’s status as the second most popular global destination for international students was “something to be proud of” and said the sector was a key export for the UK. “That’s why we want to have a robust and independent evidence base of their value and the impact they have,” she said.

Last year there was a 6% increase of 6% in visa applications for Russell group universities, and visa applications sponsored by universities are 17% higher than they were in 2010.

Alistair Jarvis, the chief executive of Universities UK, welcomed an examination of the net benefits of international students. “This is an opportunity to build on the considerable evidence that shows that international students have a very positive impact on the UK economy and local communities,” he said.

“International students also enrich our campuses and the experience of UK students, culturally as well as economically. Many return home having built strong professional and personal links that provide long-term soft-power benefits to the UK.”

The Labour MP Peter Kyle, a supporter of the pro-EU Open Britain campaign, said the report should not be used as a path to further restrictions on genuine students.

“International students are a huge boon, both to our world-class universities and our economy,” he said. “That’s why any attempt to make it harder for them to study in the UK would be a disaster.

Our economy would suffer, and so would Britain’s reputation as a tolerant and welcoming country.

“The migration advisory committee is meant to be an independent, expert body. Any attempt by ministers to use their report as a fig leaf to try and justify a crackdown on international students would be a disgrace.”

Sorgente: UK immigration levels could be lower than previously thought, new border checks find | UK news | The Guardian

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