The government has said it wants to develop a new way of measuring student migration in and out of the UK.
Universities have been campaigning for students to be taken off immigration totals.
They fear the overseas students they rely on for income will be put off coming to the UK.
The coalition has pledged to cut immigration – but most incomers are in the UK on student visas.
Universities Minister David Willetts told university leaders meeting in Keele that the Office for National Statistics was working on ways to “better count students in immigration flows”.
This is understood to mean that the government will have more detail on the numbers of overseas students leaving the UK – so a more accurate tally can be kept.
At the moment, the government only has an estimate of the number of overseas students leaving Britain.
It says students are not being taken out of the immigration totals – but that a new way of presenting information on them will inform the debate.