1048 GMT January 15, 2019
The Migration Advisory Committee, which gives the government independent advice on immigration, said there is no clear case to support such a change, BBC reported.
Universities have lobbied for students to be treated differently.
But the report does call for an easier transition into work in the UK for international students.
"International students bring clear benefits to the whole of the UK," said the committee chairman, Professor Alan Manning.
"They support the education of domestic students, research and local economies."
The report warned that the aim to keep immigration down to the tens of thousands may make the UK seem unwelcoming to students.
The study, commissioned by the Home Office in August 2017, said that there should continue to be no cap on international student numbers.
But Manning's report said that if the migration target remains, there is no practical way of removing students from the total.
In his forward to the report, Manning said, "If there is a problem with students in the target, it is with the target itself rather than the inclusion of students in the target."
The committee recommended that it should be easier for international students to be able to work at the end of their studies.
But it does not go as far as the call from Universities UK last week that international students should be able to remain and work in the UK for two years after graduation.
Universities have called for a more welcoming approach to international students, in which they would be treated separately from other migrants.
There have been warnings that the £26 billion brought to the UK economy by international students if they choose to study elsewhere, with growing competition from the US, Australia and Canada.
There are more than 750,000 international students coming to the UK each year, including university students and those learning the English language.