Theresa May Faces Political Defeat Over Counting Foreign Students As Immigrants
Despite opposition from the Prime Minister, foreign students 'will be cut' from immigration figures by ministers

Theresa May is facing a political defeat that would force her to abandon her much-criticised policy of counting foreign students as immigrants in official statistics.

While the Prime Minister has blocked the move for years, arguing it would undermine confidence in the UK’s immigration statistics, Ministers are preparing to take foreign students out of the immigration figures, despite opposition from Mrs May.

Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary has warned the PM that the Government is likely to be defeated if MPs put down an amendment requiring a change in the rules.

A Government source said: ‘It is inevitable that someone will bring forward an amendment on this, and it is very difficult to see how we could defeat it.’

Taking foreign students out of the official figures will be embarrassing for Mrs May who believes the move as weakening the defences against higher immigration, a new immigration bill later this year will allow MPs who oppose the PM on the issue to force a vote, which they are likely to win. The Home Office believes there is no way of preventing MPs from forcing a parliamentary vote on the issue when the new Immigration Bill is brought forward this year.

“Including students in the figure is distortive, counterproductive and sends out entirely the wrong signals,” she said. Since her time as Home Secretary, Mrs May has resisted calls for international students to be excluded from official immigration figures.

Read More: “Britain Becomes An Old People’s Home After Brexit”: Theresa May’s Policy Head Says

Recently, Universities have warned that classing the students as long-term migrants are deterring young people from coming to Britain to study and damaging its successful higher education sector.

Chancellor Philip Hammond and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, also have to urge her to reconsider her stance.

supporters of the change argue that exit checks last year have revealed that fewer than 5,000 foreign students overstay when their visas expire, while Mrs May claimed that up to 100,000 foreign students a year fail to go home after graduating fell apart.

A Whitehall source said: ‘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. That is the message the PM is getting from ambassadors.’

About 438,000 foreign students currently studying in the UK, changing how they are classed could make a significant difference to the headline immigration numbers.

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