The United Kingdom government is formulating plans to prevent family members from joining foreign masters students at the country’s universities, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

The number of visas granted to dependents of foreign students increased from 16,047 in 2019 to 1,35,788 in 2022, according to official figures. Students from India and Nigeria have reportedly been especially likely to bring family members with them.

Ahead of the 2019 election, the ruling Conservative Party had promised to bring down migration levels. However, official data slated to be released on May 25 is expected to show that migration reached record levels in 2022, according to the Financial Times.

In this context, the United Kingdom’s Department of Education, Home Office and Treasury are discussing a plan to stop dependents from travelling with masters students for one-year courses. “Many of these courses only last for nine months,” an unidentified official told the newspaper. “We don’t think this will have a big effect on our ability to attract global talent.”

The United Kingdom issued nearly 5,00,000 study visas in 2022, which was 81% higher compared to 2019.

From June 2021 to June 2022, net migration to the United Kingdom hit record levels, largely driven by migrants from outside European Union countries. According to the Office of National Statistics, an estimated 5,04,000 more persons arrived in the United Kingdom on a long-term basis than those leaving the country.

According to Centre for Policy Studies think tank, net migration in 2022 will be 7,00,000 – more than double the pre-Brexit record.