Rishi Sunak set to crack down on student visas as net migration reaches record high

25 November 2022, 01:06

Rishi Sunak is considering a crackdown on foreign students
Rishi Sunak is considering a crackdown on foreign students. Picture: Alamy/ONS

By Emma Soteriou

Rishi Sunak is set to crack down on student visas after it was revealed that net migration had reached a record high.

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The Prime Minister is considering the crackdown on foreign students bringing dependents and studying "low-quality" degrees after net migration to the UK climbed to a record half a million.

Downing Street indicated that plans to bring overall numbers down could include putting up barriers for international students' loved ones and restricting admissions to top universities.

It would be in line with proposals being explored by Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who has previously complained about foreign students "bringing in family members who can piggyback onto their student visa" and "propping up, frankly, substandard courses in inadequate institutions".

Read more: UK migration hits record high of 504,000 in the year to June, new figures reveal

Read more: James O'Brien takes aim at Suella Braverman: Does she 'relish' a lack of legal migration routes?

The Prime Minister&squot;s official spokesman insisted Mr Sunak was "fully committed" to bringing overall immigration levels down
The Prime Minister's official spokesman insisted Mr Sunak was "fully committed" to bringing overall immigration levels down. Picture: Alamy

Around 504,000 more people are estimated to have moved to the UK than left in the 12 months to June 2022, up sharply from 173,000 in the year to June 2021.

The estimates were compiled by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which said the jump was driven by "unique" factors including visa schemes for Ukrainians and Hong Kong citizens, and students arriving from outside the European Union.

People arriving on study visas accounted for the largest proportion of long-term immigration of non-EU nationals, at 277,000, or 39% of the total, according to the ONS.

Downing Street insisted Rishi Sunak was "fully committed" to bringing overall immigration levels down.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "There are some unprecedented and unique circumstances which are having a significant impact on these statistics.

"The Prime Minister has said he wants net migration to reduce, he has not put a specific time frame on that."

Net migration has risen to a record level
Net migration has risen to a record level. Picture: ONS

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: "We have welcomed hundreds of thousands of people to Britain this year following the devastating war in Ukraine, the evacuation from Afghanistan and the despicable crack down on democratic rights in Hong Kong.

"Therefore, it is understandable that we have seen a record number of people coming to our country thanks to the generosity of the British people.

"But the public rightly expect us to control our borders and we remain committed to reducing migration over time in line with our manifesto commitment."

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