Lord Heseltine adds to calls to exempt students from migration figures

25 Aug 2014 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Lord Heseltine has become the latest high profile individual to add his voice to the drive to remove students from the net migration date.

The ex-deputy prime minister and former cabinet minister said that foreign students should be excluded from government plans to lower UK immigration and left out of the official migration figures.

He suggested that doing so would help avoid the risk of damaging British universities and their global reputation.

Lord Heseltine is not the first person to suggest that students should not be included. Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg is among the other voices who have previously called for the removal of students from net migration figures.

Mr Clegg said that the targets did not "make and sense", while Labour shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna has also said that the government should make sure overseas students are "removed immediately from the net migration target".

Lord Heseltine added that students are "not the sort of people that are causing the anxiety about immigration". Previous advocates for their removal from the figures have noted that they are generally only temporarily in the country, increasing the need not to count them as immigrants.

Lord Heseltine told BBC Radio 4: "In talking about tens of thousands of people, the government will have to recognise that there are very large numbers of students in this country - in our universities, in our business schools - who are a great asset financially and educationally."

However, Prime Minister David Cameron has continued to count them, which is proving problematic since he declared his aim is to reduce net migration to under 100,000 a year before next year's general election. At the moment it is about twice that.