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Within days of taking over as the UK’s home secretary in September last year, Suella Braverman had set her sights on the families of international students.

In one of her first interviews – with Rupert Murdoch’s Sun on Sunday – she said dependants were “piggybacking” on student visas, and “not contributing to growing our economy” – a refrain that she would never grow tired of repeating in the months ahead.

Despite a change of prime minister, being temporarily ousted from her job, and untold pleading from a sector worried for its financial future, Ms Braverman has finally got her way and, from January 2024, overseas students will be banned from bringing family members with them to the UK unless they are on postgraduate research courses.

Ms Braverman told MPs that she feels the changes to the rules on dependants strike the right balance between acting decisively on tackling net migration and protecting the economic benefits that students can bring to the UK. But most in the sector disagree, and fear they will only serve to reduce the £42 billion overseas students contribute to the economy, and strengthen the offering of its rivals.

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