A highly-critical report from the National Audit Office has revealed poor management and abuse of the overseas student visa system.
But Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, told the Today programme's Sarah Montague that they are concerned that a negative message is being put out that international students are not welcome in the UK.
She said that applications coming into universities in the UK are holding up reasonably well but there have been significant dips from the Indian subcontinent.
"Genuine students are going to competitor countries", she said.
Ms. Dandridge said that it was "not just a financial equation but it goes much wider".
But she acknowledged the question of tightening up of the visa system is true but maintained that "we must recognise that UK Border Agency could work more effectively in partnership with universities" in order to achieve "a sensible collaborative approach" in order to adhere to compliance in terms of immigrant students.
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