Only 4,600 international students overstayed their visas last year, less than a twentieth of the previous estimates of 100,000, official figures released today have revealed.
For the first time figures have been published based on exit checks from UK ports, showing that 97 per cent of foreign students left the UK after finishing their studies.
These figures show that the Conservatives threat to crack down on foreign students should be called off immediately.
This debacle happened on Theresa May’s watch at the Home Office.
I spent five years in coalition battling her department's bogus figures on this issue but she responded by erecting a wall of visa restrictions on an entirely false basis.
Cabinet Brexiteers fought a referendum campaign on a flawed prospectus, scapegoating foreign students who weren’t even here, and demonising EU citizens who are now leaving the country voluntarily.
No wonder the government has announced a review into the impact of foreign students because its economically disastrous policy was based on figures that were out by 96%.
As we argued repeatedly with Theresa May, overseas students bring huge economic benefits to universities and the broader economy.
It makes no sense for students to be included in official immigration statistics.
Higher education is one of Britain's most successful export industries, we must not let it be destroyed by the Conservatives' short-sighted obsession with immigration targets based on spectacularly wrong data.