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The tide is turning on policy for international students

When edifices fall they tend to crumble quickly. As August drew to a close the government sounded a retreat on its previously unshakable policy towards international students.

In the face of all available evidence on the economic and cultural benefits of overseas students Theresa May, first as home secretary and then as prime minister, has held a firm line on student visas. With the publication of new figures on net migration, the government has finally had to relent.

Students from outside the European Union who come to study in British universities are reported in the UK’s net migration figures because they meet the UN’s technical definition of a migrant: anyone who comes to live in a country for three or more years. This is the length of an average undergraduate degree in Britain. When David Cameron promised to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands this sent alarm bells ringing in universities.

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