Expected climbdown on students in immigration figures welcomed by Scottish Conservatives

Written by Tom Freeman on 3 January 2018 in News

Theresa May 'preparing to take international students out of immigration figures'

Students - PA

Reports Theresa May is preparing to take international students out of immigration figures have been welcomed by the Scottish Conservatives.

Responding to an article in the Daily Mail, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson tweeted: "Good. Including students in the figure is distortive, counterproductive and sends out entirely the wrong signals. I hope this change happens soon."

Davidson's cohort of MPs, elected last year, have reportedly held a sit-down meeting with Home Secretary Amber Rudd to lobby for dropping students from the immigration target, according to Sky News.

Rudd has previously said she would crack down on the numbers of international students but now she, Philip Hammond and Boris Johnson are among the senior ministers understood to support a redefinition.

Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith tweeted: "Encouraging to hear that foreign students will likely be removed from immigration statistics. They should never have been included in the first place."

Universities have warned Brexit is already having an impact on the number of students from overseas looking to study in Britain, while removing students from would have a significant impact on the headline net immigration figure, which was 230,000 in the year to June 2017 - still well short of the Tory aim to bring the number down to the "tens of thousands".

Another Whitehall source told the Mail that British ambassadors have also apparently been lobbying for the change.

"If we are going to make a success of Brexit and make a reality of the idea of “Global Britain”, then we have to be more open to the world," they said. 

"That is the message the PM is getting from ambassadors."

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