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Two official studies today provided fresh evidence that the vast majority of international students return home after their studies as figures revealed a new fall in net migration.
A study of exit data by the Office for National Statistics covering students who arrived in the country during 2015 and 2016 found that well over 90 per cent either left when their visa expired or were granted permission to stay.
New Home Office figures published today showed that 97 per cent of overseas students assessed during a sample study had left on time.
The findings were immediately seized on by university chiefs. They have been battling to convince the government of the merits of allowing more international students to enter the country.
Dr Tim Bradshaw, the acting director of the Russell Group of leading universities, said: “International students make an enormous contribution to the UK.
“This exit check data confirms that in addition to helping create a diverse learning environment and making a big economic impact, an overwhelming majority of international students comply fully with the terms of their visas. International students are good for universities and good for the UK.”
The findings on students came as new statistics showed a decline of 81,000 in net migration in the past year as 588,000 people moved here during the year to the end of March and 342,000 departed.
However, the net figure, 246,000, is virtually identical to the 248,000 recorded three months ago.
The main trends in the new figures include a slowdown in immigration from Europe and a significant increase in the numbers of EU citizens leaving . However, there was a still net inflow of 127,000 Europeans over the period.
Nicola White, the head of migration statistics at the ONS, said the new figures continued to “indicate that the EU referendum result may be influencing people’s decision to migrate into and out of the UK”.
The statistics also show a net inflow of 189,000 citizens of non-European countries over the year. Migration from outside Europe, which the government can already control, is the main reason for the continuing inflow into Britain.
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