The Government will reveal on Thursday that new border checks introduced past year found 97 percent of worldwide students - one of the biggest groups of immigrants - left after finishing their studies.
However, newly published data produced by the ONS following the re-introduction of "exit checks" on those leaving the United Kingdom found no evidence of non-EU students routinely overstaying their entitlement.
Following the release of the new figures, Sir Vince Cable, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, who led the department in charge of higher education in the previous, Conservative-Liberal coalition, government, said: We spent five years trying to persuade the Home Office that the figures they were using as evidence were bogus.
The shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said: "I think there's always been a consensus on the Labour side, but also among most Tories that think about these issues, that you shouldn't have students in migration targets".
The decrease in the net migration figure, described as "statistically significant" by the ONS, was driven by an increase in the number of EU citizens leaving the United Kingdom over the year to March 2017, particularly those from the so-called "EU8" eastern European countries, according to the ONS.
The figures come as the Home Office unveils separate plans to ask migration experts to examine the impact of global students on the United Kingdom job market.
Figures released on Thursday by the Office for National Statistics found just 4,600 students are believed to illegally remain, rather than the 100,000 previously estimated.
"The work of the statisticians across government suggests that recent cohorts of non-EU students are to a very large extent compliant with their visas in terms of departing or staying legally via extensions of leave", Bell said.
The ex-Chancellor also claimed that May had misrepresented Office for National Statistics figures on the gap between how many non-EU students were arriving in the United Kingdom and how many had left. The number of students overstaying their visas is a tiny fraction of previous (incorrect) claims.. "Clearly, it does reflect the changed political environment since the election, too". "This publication is an important step forwards, as is the announcement of a MAC review of the value of student migration to the UK", Bradshaw added.
Speaking to the Guardian, Labour MP Peter Kyle said: "International students are a huge boon, both to our world-class universities and our economy. Many return home having built strong professional and personal links that provide long term soft power benefits to the United Kingdom".
"That's why any attempt to make it harder for them to study in the United Kingdom would be a disaster".
The crackdown included closure of the post-study work visa that was popular among self-financing Indian students, and the closure of almost 900 bogus colleges that were admitting Indian and other non-EU students for allegedly non-academic purposes.
Brandon Lewis, immigration minister, said, "We have always been clear that our commitment to reducing net migration to sustainable levels does not detract from our determination to attract worldwide students from around the world".
An increase in European Union nationals leaving the United Kingdom has pushed down the country's net migration, official data reveal.
It will also consider the impact their recruitment has on the quality of education given to domestic students.
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