Migration figures confirm big overseas student cash injection to UK

By staff writers
August 26, 2010

Net UK migration figures, published by the Office for National Statistics today, shows that the increase last year in the number of people coming to live in Britain is due to a significant rise in international students, together with a decline in the number of Britons going to live abroad for 12 months or more.

Overseas student figures went up 35 per cent, with 362,015 tier four visas issued under the points-based system as compared with 2008.

Colleges and universities, and the economy as a whole, are reaping a massive £2 billion revenue from the growth in international students (more when indirect benefits are included) - though educationalists point out that this needs to be considered in relation to a larger debate about the structure, funding and access for both domestic and overseas students in higher education.

The overall ONS figures showed that incomers, compared with those moving abroad, increased by 33,000 from the previous 2008 total of 163,000.

The quarterly immigration and asylum statistics for the 12 months to June 2010 show sharp falls in the number people coming to work in Britain under the points-based immigration system.

The number of temporary employment visas fell by 17 per cent to 66,495.

There were half the number of Eastern European arrivals as compared to 2008, and the number of people coming to work in Britain has continued to fall during the economic downturn.

The statistics also show a further fall in the number of asylum seekers coming to Britain, down from 25,930 in 2008 to 24,485 - with government and courts taking an increasingly punitive attitude to people seeking refuge in the UK.

Meanwhile, anti-immigration lobby groups like Migration Watch, tabloid newspapers and conservative politicians have all sought to interpret the figures negatively - claiming that the overall increase in net migration represents a continuing crisis.

But pro-migrant groups say that continuing 'immigration panic' in the media is based on prejudice, misunderstanding and misinformation on issues like employment and migration.

An Institute for Public Policy Research report earlier this year concluded that on the best available UK micro-economic evidence of the effects of migration on employment, in line with research in other OECD countries, there were limited effects either way.


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