This morning the Telegraph reported that the pressure group Migration Watch has used a Home Office study to conclude that the UK may have allowed up to 60,000 'illegal students' to enter the UK last year.
The study conducted by the Home Office was exploring the use of interviews to determine whether those entering the UK on a student visa were bona-fide students.
We have taken our own look at the figures as part of our Migration Watch Watch initiative and can conclude that at least 60 per cent of what Migration Watch says is wrong (and that if there's going to be slapdash use of statistics we had better get in on the act).
a. The original survey was biased to begin with. The survey used a risk-based profile to interview applicants who were judged (in the Home Office's view) to be most at risk of entering the UK illegally. These were from countires such as Burma, Sri Lanka and India and in no way reflect the make up of the wider international student population.
b. Migration Watch's maths is dodgy. Migration Watch uses the overall refusal rate per country and then simply multiplies the rate against the total number of student visas from that country. They should instead have taken a weighted average taking into account the proportions of students studying in further education, universities and higher education institutions and private colleges.
Once you factor in both of these flaws- you can safely see that the 60,000 number is a complete joke and that a thorough study would not come close to such a number.
NUS is seriously worried that Migration Watch is putting the welfare of international students at risk. By publishing headlines on its website that 'illegal workers could count for almost half of overseas students' and 'up to 63,000 bogus students given visas in a year' Migration Watch is encouraging racists and xenophobic sentiments towards international students.
We have called on Migration Watch to debate us in public. A call that Migration Watch has consistently refused.