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Immigration survey reveals fears | Immigration Matters

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UK Immigration policy may be stuck between a “rock and a hard place” in dealing with public concerns, says an Oxford University report.

The study of 1,000 found people were most concerned about immigrant groups politicians could do little to cut.

The research by the university’s Migration Observatory found broad overall support for cutting immigration to the UK, although less in Scotland.

The Home Office said its policies were in line with what the public wanted.

The Migration Observatory said it wanted answers to two questions that do not feature in standard opinion polls on immigration.

It asked respondents whom they referred to as immigrants and whether they wanted cuts to specific categories, such as asylum seekers, workers or students.

The report found approximately 70% of people want a cut in immigrants, broadly supporting previous surveys. A fifth said they thought immigration should stay at current levels.

Six out of 10 people thought the most likely reason someone came to the UK was for asylum, followed by just over half saying migrants mainly arrived to work.

This contrasted sharply with official statistics that show students make up the largest group of immigrants, followed by workers. Approximately 4% of all migrants in 2009 were asylum seekers.

This difference between actual and perceived trends could be seen when people described who they wanted to see cut.

Students -worth 40 billion to the UK economy – came last on the list, but 56% of people wanted fewer asylum seekers.

The group that people were most concerned about was low-skilled workers.

The UK has a standing ban on unskilled workers from outside the EU, introduced by the previous Labour government, but cannot restrict the movement of EU citizens.

Britain has imposed working restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian citizens. Despite the fact that they are EU members, when it comes to employment Bulgarian and Romanian citizens do not have the same rights as other Europeans, for instance from Poland, Slovakia or other A8 Accession countries.

Many care industry and catering businesses would like to recruit Romanian, Bulgarian and other European care workers, as the Government’s cap on migration, combined with newly imposed restrictions on Tier 2 and Tier 4 routes, has made it increasing difficult to recruit non-EU staff (on work permits and student visas).

Scott Blinder, lead author of the report, said the team had tried to get behind blunt questions on immigration and establish whether public concerns mirrored government priorities.

He said that while the public wanted less immigration, a majority were concerned about the groups that it was most difficult for the government to reduce.

The coalition government has a target to cut net immigration to tens of thousands by the end of the Parliament.

It has introduced curbs on skilled workers from beyond Europe and students and it is also planning restrictions relating to family migration.

In response to the study, immigration minister Damian Green said: “We have made sweeping changes to get a grip on immigration in this country, closing down routes that were subject to abuse and taking action against those with no right to be here.

“This is clearly in line with what the public want us to be doing. There is much more to be done and we will stick to our course.”

However, Dr Blinder said: “What this report shows very clearly is that the government is stuck between a rock and a hard-place.

“A clear majority of people in Britain would like immigration reduced, but they want the cuts to come from specific groups of immigrants, and these are often groups over whom the government has limited direct control, and sometimes groups that are comparatively small in number.”

Ipsos Mori surveyed 1,002 people between 2 and 8 September for the Oxford study. Approximately 11% of those sampled were born abroad, 5% of them being British citizens. Source: BBC.

Key Findings

Perceptions of Migrants:

  • When thinking about immigrants, respondents were most likely to think of asylum seekers (62%) and least likely to think of students (29%). In current official (ONS) statistics, students represent the largest group of immigrants coming to the UK (37% of 2009 immigrant arrivals) while asylum seekers are the smallest group (4% in 2009).
  • Respondents tended to think of immigrants as those who come to the UK permanently (62%) rather than those who come to stay temporarily (fewer than 30%). This differs from the internationally-agreed definition used for official UK statistics, which classifies anyone who comes to the UK for more than a year as a long-term migrant.
  • When thinking about immigrants, people in Britain most commonly think about foreign citizens – 62% normally think about non-EU citizens and 51% about EU citizens (excl. British) – rather than people who were born abroad and acquired British citizenship after moving to the UK (40%). Very low proportions of the public have in mind British citizens moving (11%) or returning (7%) to the UK. Similarly, few people normally have in mind the UK-born children of immigrants to Britain (12%).

See also:

Health care workers needed in UK now

Immigration Rules for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals

Free Movement of EU nationals explained

Colleges and Universities discount fees to attract more Tier 4 students

If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: or visit

Majestic College offer special packages for EU students. They also have a number of employers looking for staff right now and are willing to employ Bulgarians and Romanians.

For more information call Joanna on 0208 207 1020 or email 


Free presentations are being run at Bison UK Immigration Advisers for Employers, Romanians and Bulgarians – Monday to Friday, from 11am-12noon and 3-4pm. No need to book, just turn up.

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5 Responses to “Immigration survey reveals fears”
Read them below or add one

  1. Michael a says :

    Exactly Mr. Kelly, but I just wonder when will these immigration guys realise this?? The fact that we are here spending each centavo that we earned from a sector that we ourselves also helped to strengthen, should be perceived with positive regards. However, due to the existing immigration laws, we legitimate students are as if being prosecuted by the government, by taking away our rights for work.

    Hope Mr. Green will realise this. I hope this call will reach his good office. We students are not burden of the British society, it just happened that we are not members of the European Union, but nevertheless we are still help to this society and we are not like those lazy ones who are just waiting for benefits, in fact we cannot enjoy benefits.

    Thank you Mr. Kelly for this nice article.

  2. Thank you for the wake up call! One final rant on this ‘low wages’ stuff. Firstly, care home fees (paid to care providers) are ultimately controlled by the government, which keeps them as low as possible. Prisoners have more money spent on them than the elderly! Employers can only pay out wages based on income received from their customers.
    Secondly, care homes do not pay lower wages to foreign workers as most people seem to assume. British, Filipino, Bulgarian, Romanian or Indian workers should receive equal pay – that’s the law!
    Finally, the care sector could not survive without overseas workers and students because the majority of local workers do not want to work in this sector and unfortunately many do not want to work at all because they receive benefits.

  3. michael a says :

    do agree with Mr. Kelly. Foreign students like me spends a lot of money for my living. That includes fare for bus and train, food, house rent, electricity, gas bill, broadband and so on. Aside from that, I am also paying 3000 for my tuition per year.

    After the UK government did change its law on Tier 4 (general Students) last July 4, a lot of my classmates went home and others dropped out of class. 2/3 of our school was closed. From formerly 3 buildings, now the college is operating just one building and layed off more than 10 tutors. Which simply means “unemployment”.

    Well in my point of view, though UK has to infringe stricter and more stringent laws on immigration, authorities should still ensure that their actions are right by choosing certain groups which gives less benefits for their country. I have seen and worked with different people in my job and found out that those people who came to UK through asylum and those people from bulgaria and romania, even have difficulties speaking English.

    Let me point out again, that legitimate students like us should not be deprived with opportunities as we enter this country upon passing a very strict immigration rules, unlike those people who are given asylum. We are just working part time, with no provisions to public funds, but we are still paying the national insurance. Well its still fine with us, but now that the immigration has changed, and provides students in privately funded schools with no work, this is a different story. UK authorities should wake up and realise that such students are helping their economy to run. We aren’t just like those asylum seekers who come here to work, we came here to learn and while doing that to earn for our expenses to pay for the very high cost of living in this country.

    COMMON people wake up!!!! We students are not taking away the opportunities and the work of your people. What is hurting your economy are those people who are lazy and those who does not even care to study.

  4. Students are worth £40 billion to the UK economy according to the HOME OFFICE.

    You do the maths. If 300,000 students come to the UK, pay fees ranging from £3000 to £25,000 per year, spend £10,000 per year on living, pay tax on part time work, pay VAT, rent and buy houses, buy cars, rent and buy mobile phones/TV’s/Laptops/Broadband and help employ tens of thousands of British workers who also pay tax, spend money and so on.
    Even a ‘stupid’ person can see the benefits of international students!
    Extract from NEW York Times Article:
    According to the British Home Office, the education industry is worth £40 billion annually to the British economy, of which international students contribute £12.5 billion.
    In 2010, a total of 334,815 student visas were issued by the British government, but the British Home Office has predicted that the new measures will result in 67,000 fewer per year. Source: New York Times.

  5. A I Haywood says :

    Students – worth 40 billion to the UK economy..
    What a crock – many are bogus for a start.
    Where on earth did this statistic originate.
    40 BILLION, Jeez, do we appear that stupid to you????

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