Dr Jo Beall, British Council Director of Education and Society, said "It would be a great pity if the drop in net migration indicates a drop in genuine international students coming to the UK. We will not know the number of international students in the UK for 2011-12, until enrolment figures are released early next year, so it is too early to conclude that visa reforms have had an impact. There is no limit to the number of student visas universities with highly-trusted status can sponsor, so it is very disappointing that there is now a downturn in visa applications.
Genuine international students make a tremendous academic and cultural contribution to our educational institutions, and are also an important source of revenue. British Council research shows that the global market for international students is growing, and based on the UK's world class reputation for quality and excellence, the UK should be experiencing a growth in numbers over the next decade. It is vital that the most ambitious students continue to see the UK as the best destination for them to develop and share their skills, and build a life-long relationship with the UK. The British Council is committed to working with the government and institutions to ensure the message remains that the UK is open for business."