Almost a quarter of a million fewer overseas UK student visas are expected to be issued over the next five years as immigration curbs take effect, according to a government estimate published.
The Home Office assessment published on Tuesday suggests that the curb on overseas student numbers from outside the European Union will reduce total net migration to Britain by 230,000 between now and 2015 and make a significant contribution to the government's goal of reducing net migration to 'tens of thousands' each year.
But the annual reduction, averaging 46,000 a year, is only around half the figure quoted by the home secretary, Theresa May, when she gave details of the visa changes in March, when implying the changes would cut net migration by 400,000 in total by 2015.
A more detailed impact assessment of the student visa changes is due to be presented to the Parliament later this week, when the government is expected to come under further criticism about what many see as a 'false economy.'
The government's move to cut the annual flow of 300,000 students into Britain stems from its pledge to reduce net annual migration from outside Europe to below 100,000 from the 2009 level of 184,000.
But the impact will come from non-EU students, who account for some 139,000, but which, according to the home affairs committee, could 'cripple' the country's thriving education sector, valued at up to £40bn a year.