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>> Students are finding themselves at the center of the immigration debate raging in the UK. New findings have rubbished the idea that foreign study is providing an immigration back door. The study suggests foreign students attending university aren't staying on illegally at the end of their studies in large numbers.
Previous estimates have claimed a gulf between those arriving and departing after studying.>> It has never been our perception in the university sector that students are coming here in order to stay on after their study, that higher education represents some kind of form of long-term immigration.>> But the British government has been criticized for its treatment of foreign students.
Prime minister Theresa May is now facing fresh calls to remove students from her overall net migration target of 100,000. It comes as overall net migration has actually fallen to the lowest level in three years. In the year to March 2017, the number fell over 80,000 to around 240,000 people.
It's thought to be due to an excess of EU Nationals and some fear the language surrounding Brexit could be playing a part.>> There is no doubt at all that some of the negative rhetoric around migrants and the idea that students are classified as migrants, the impact of Brexit and what that says about.
What it's perceived to say about our openness, whatever the rights and wrongs of Brexit, that that makes the UK a less attractive place.>> On Thursday, Britain Commission did separate report into the economic impact of foreign students. It enunciates the Homeland Secretary noted their importance to Britain's higher education, a key UK export.
But immigration has long been a sensitive topic in Britain. As Brexit negotiations unravel, it may become even more so.