PlanB - here is an interesting fact I have unearthed.
Students from overseas who come here to study are granted student visas and are expected to return home after their period of study covered by their visas. However, until January this year no exit data were being collected by the Borders Agency to confirm that students were actually leaving at the end of their study as they should.
According to the ONS:
"new questions have been asked of passengers interviewed in the IPS since 1st January 2012. These improvements include:
* For emigrating passengers (who previously migrated to the UK) the addition of a question on original reason for coming to the UK.
* An amendment to ask emigrating passengers ‘Are you, or have you been studying while in the UK?’
* For departing non-UK resident passengers (i.e. have been in the UK less than 12 months), the addition of a question asking ‘did you study on this visit to the UK?’
* A new code to separate Further Education from Higher Education.
* An extra question asking immigrating students when their course will finish and (if less than 12 months) when they expect to leave the UK."
An enquiry to the ONS gave me a link to "Migrant Journey: Second Report" published by the Home Office in August 2011. This followed a number of individual migrants (over 700,000) over several years.
"Approximately 21 per cent of all students in the 2004 cohort still had valid visas after five years... The top five countries within this group showed differing results with between five per cent and 47 per cent having either settled or had valid leave five years after entry."
This means that a significant proportion of students who are believed to leave the country at the end of their study are actually settling here permanently. It seems that "study" is being used as a means of securing permanent residence in the UK by a significant number of overseas students.