The Government has denied it is considering removing international students from the UK’s migration figures, despite concern from the Chancellor, Philip Hammond.
No10 said it was “categorically not reviewing” the situation. Overseas students from outside the EU require a UK visa to study in Britain, and in recent years have seen the process to obtain permission to study in the UK and stay here after graduation made much harder as part of the Government’s efforts to bring net migration below the 100,000 figure.
Mr Hammond told the Treasury Select Committee that the general public was not concerned about immigrants and migrants who came to the UK or study or work in a highly-skilled position.
He said: “When the public tells us loudly and clearly that they have a problem with levels of migration, it is very clear to me that they are not talking about computer programmers, brain surgeons, bankers, senior managers... possibly students.
"But they are talking about people competing for entry-level jobs with people in the UK who, perhaps, have a level of skills that means they only have access to those kind of jobs."
However, Downing Street told the BBC that it was “keeping all visa routes under review” as part of its efforts to bring down annual migration to the UK. It said the position on which categories of migrant were included in the figures had not changed.
Prime Minister Theresa May was responsible for tightening the access to UK visas for students and other groups while she was Home Secretary in David Cameron’s Government.
While in her previous role, she had repeatedly refused to exempt students from the migration figures.
According to the BBC, Mr Hammond’s views and those of Downing Street point to “further evidence of differing opinions within the cabinet about how to manage migration, after Brexit”.