Labour will today call for an end to student visitor visa loopholes that are allowing tens of thousands of people to enter the country as the party continues to reposition itself on immigration.

In a major speech, Yvette Cooper will say genuine international students are being blocked from studying in the United Kingdom while the short-term visas are being increasingly abused.

It comes after party leader Ed Miliband last night admitted in a party political broadcast that Labour had got it wrong on immigration when they were in power.

The Shadow Home Secretary will continue the mea culpa today, conceding the party should have been "ready to talk about problems" but it now knows "that needs to change".

She will also acknowledge that the impact of immigration must be properly managed so it is "fair for all".

But Ms Cooper will insist the repositioning does not represent a shift to the right as she argues there must be an effort to distinguish between "immigration that works and immigration that doesn't".

"As Ed Miliband has said, we know Labour got some things wrong on immigration in Government," Ms Cooper will say in the central London speech.

"We will support the Government where it introduces sensible policies and we will point out where they are getting things wrong.

"But we won't enter an arms race of rhetoric on immigration - and we hope the Prime Minister won't either.

"That's not honest, or good for Britain.

"It is because immigration needs public support that the impact must be properly managed so it is fair for all," she will add.

"And yes, we need a serious debate about how to get that right."

Ms Cooper will claim Tory promises to reduce net migration to tens of thousands by the election is "not what it seems".

The Shadow Home Secretary will say that a reduction in net migration of 72,000 is made up of a 27,000 increase in emigration alongside a 20,000 drop in the number of Brits returning to the UK while student immigration has dropped by 38,000 - at a cost of £8bn in investment a year.

"Few think the answer to Britain's immigration challenges is to persuade more Brits to go away.

"Net migration measures the difference between certain categories of immigration and emigration and the way they have set the target means they are at risk of focusing on the wrong things.

"Everything that is included in the net migration measure is treated as the same while the Government tries to bring it down.

"Everything excluded from the net migration measure is being ignored - even if it causes serious problems.

"Legitimate university students are included in the target even though they bring billions into Britain - and those are being squeezed.

"Yet student visitor visas aren't included - and growing abuse in that category is being ignored.

"Stronger checks are needed on shorter-term student visitor visas."

Ms Cooper will say the number of such visas has gone up by 30,000 a year since the election even though applicants do not have to meet any academic requirements to be eligible and no checks are made on whether they study or overstay."

"The Borders Inspector has already warned this route is open to abuse for those who are coming not to study but for low-skilled work instead," she will add.

"Yet because 'student visitors' aren't included in the 'net migration' target, the Home Office doesn't appear to care.

"We also need much stronger action to cut illegal immigration as a priority," she will add.

She will call for "faster, stronger enforcement" when illegal immigrants are found, unannounced border agency inspections, carried out by officers with arrest powers, for employers and colleges and exit checks at borders.

More prosecutions and higher fines for paying less than the minimum wage, as well measures to tackle "gangmasters" employing illegal migrants in the social care, hospitality and construction industries are needed, she will add, as well as a ban on housing workers in over-crowded accommodation.

Ms Cooper will point to a halving of the number of people refused entry, backlogs in finding failed asylum seekers, a drop in deportations of illegal immigrants and reduced numbers of foreign prisoners being removed, as proof the government is failing to tackle the problem.

"The system isn't working at the moment and it has got significantly worse since the election," she will say.