There is serious debate as to whether foreign non-EU students should be excluded from the government's plans to decrease immigration numbers into the UK. Lord Heseltine, former cabinet minister, firmly argues that including non-EU students would be detrimental to universities across the country as there would be a severe "lack of finance that follows." In agreement with Heseltine, Nick Clegg profoundly disagrees with his Conservative coalition partners and heavily criticised Cameron's decision to reduce net migration to less than 100,000 per year by 2015. Last year the Office for National Statistics approximated a net long-term migration of around 212,000.
Lord Heseltine, along with several other ministers believe that foreign exchange students are a valued asset in the UK, bringing both finance and education, and laments that these are "not the sort of people that are causing the anxiety about immigration." Those that put strain on the UK's public services are often uneducated and unemployed, not the students. However the Home Office has stated that non-EU students will remain as part of the numbers. Business secretary, Chuka Umumna remarks that, "higher education is one of the UK's biggest exports, worth over £10bn a year to our economy, which this Tory-led government has played fast and loose with." And so, both Heseltine and Umumna believe that it would be nothing short of absurd to include non-EU students as many people abroad are already under "the impression that [the UK] are closed for business."