News that the numbers of foreign students overstaying their visas have been grossly overestimated does not come as a huge surprise. The sector has been saying for years that students are education tourists, not migrants.
If net migration figures are indeed a third lower than the current estimates, one must also wonder whether suspect statistics played a role in stoking unnecessary fears around immigration that led to Brexit and thus potential higher education funding cuts.
The government needs accurate data on international students – the International Passenger Survey is not fit for purpose. If these findings are proved to be correct, then it is imperative that the government works with the sector to remove international students from the question of immigration. International students are good for our universities, good for our economy and good for our global soft power influence.