The government plans to cut the number of student visas issued to non-EU nationals by about 25%, Home Secretary Theresa May has announced.
In a Common statement on 22 March 2011, Mrs May said "bogus students" would be prevented from "studying meaningless courses at fake colleges" and the standard of English expected of student visa applicants would be raised.
The number of non-EU students coming to the UK would fall by 70,000 to 80,000 annually, she predicted.
There will also be tougher restrictions on non-EU students staying in the UK after their course finishes - including a rule that they must find a job that pays at least £20,000 a year.
But shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper claimed that the proposals would "hit" higher education as the government tried to compensate for failing to meet its pledge to cut net migration to tens of thousands over next four years.
While Labour wished to see migration "properly controlled", she said it was important to recognise the importance of higher and further education to the economy as an export industry.
She called on Mrs May to make policies that were "in the interests of British universities, in the interests of the British economy and in the interests of a sensible, controlled migration policy, rather than taking risks with an important export industry for the sake of promises she knows she can't keep".