The number of visas granted to Chinese students to study in Britain has increased this year by 17 percent, Home Office Minister Baroness Williams told the House of Lords.

Britain's upper chamber in the Houses of Parliament debated a growing call from politicians to remove international students from the country's net migration totals.

So far the government has refused to accept the change in the way the figures are counted, but Baroness Williams made it clear in the debate there was no limit on the number of overseas people heading to Britain to study.

Lord Holmes, who sparked the debate Tuesday in the House of Lords said since 2010 the number of international students coming to Britain has fallen by 6 percent, with an estimated cost to the economy of 9 billion pounds or almost US$12 billion, while the global market has increased by 7 percent.

Holmes said the message had to go out through the Foreign Office, the British Council and all channels, saying: "Students of the world, you are so welcome here, come study in the UK and be part of our future."

Baroness Williams said to the year ending June 2017, there was a 9 percent increase in Russell group universities, and a 17 percent increase in all student visas granted for Chinese nationals.

The minister said that in the 2015-16 academic year, almost half a million international students enrolled in British universities, with visa applications sponsored by universities 19 percent higher than in 2010. "There is no limit on the number of international students who come to this country, and we welcome them all," she said.

"We absolutely recognise the cultural and financial contribution that they make to this country. That is why we do not limit the number of genuine international students who come here to study and from whom UK businesses can recruit," she added.

Meanwhile, Britain's third biggest airport reported Wednesday that an influx of international students jetting into Britain to start their studies gave Manchester Airport a massive boost.

Thousands of international students arrived on their journeys to the 25 universities inside the airport's catchment area.

The students helped bring the number of people travelling through the airport in September 2017 to 2.8 million. It saw the airport's annual rolling total reach 27.6 million people, a year-on-year increase of 11 percent.