The fracturing of opinion between Theresa May and David Cameron over whether students should be included in the net migration figures is purely semantics. The UN definition of ‘migrant’, to which countries such as the US and Australia adhere, is ‘a person who moves to the country other than that of his or her usual residence for a period of at least a year’.
Therefore for us to compare ‘apples to apples’ on a global basis, international students should be included in the net migration numbers, even though they are often transient in nature. The vast majority of students are likely to return home to work.
In delivering any message on net migration, Cameron should start to separate the figures and educate the public through hardcore statistics on the benefits that migration brings. Yes, the prime minister should be able to have his cake and eat it too.
Katrina Cooper, counsel, Faegre Baker Daniels, London EC4