The UK Government’s tough stance on immigration and relentless crackdowns on overseas students has resulted in a 25% fall in net migration levels in the past year, official figures show.
Net migration, or the difference between the number of people who come to live in the UK for the long-term and the number who are leaving, plummeted from 242,000 to 183,000 in the 12 month to March 2012.
The reduction was mainly due to the predictable fall in the number of foreign nationals studying in the UK, even though international students are not long term migrants and should not be included in the targets according to leading figures such as London Mayor Boris Johnson.
Overseas non-EU students contribute £2.5 billion to universities in fees alone.
The Conservative led coalition Government’s election pledge is to ruthlessly slash the annual figure to the “tens of thousands” by 2015.
Coalition partners, Nick Clegg’s spineless Lib Dems, have kept curiously quiet on the subject of immigration since they came to share power for the first time since their pervert Liberal MP Cyril Smith was in Parliament.
Before jumping into bed with David Cameron, two-faced Clegg said the UK should offer an amnesty to overtsayers and favoured a more regional immigration policy. He also said he was against university fees for resident students rising, which have trebled under his watch.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on this week shows that net migration in 2011-2 fell to below 200,000 for the first time since 2008-9.
Inward migration to the UK dropped 42,000 to 536,000, with non-EU nationals settling in the UK falling from 317,000 to 296,000.
The ONS confirmed the fall was “largely due” to a drop in the number of foreign students.
The number of people leaving the UK rose from 108,000 to 127,000, although in truth the UK Border Agency has no accurate counting in and out system and does not even know how many student visa overstayers there are in the country.
Immigration Minister Mark Harper boasted that the figures showed the Government was bringing immigration “back under control”.
“Our tough policies are taking effect and this marks a significant step towards bringing net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands by the end of this Parliament,” he said.
“At the same time, we continue to attract the brightest and best: these figures show that there has been a small increase in the number of sponsored student visa applications for the university sector.”
I don’t think so Mark. Student visa applications are expected to drop by 25% as the “brightest and best” take their money and skills to countries which offer them post study visa options.
Speaking on tour in India, Tory Mayor of London Boris Johnson said the crackdown on student visas is sending the wrong signals to foreign students and hampering the economic recovery.
Sarah Mulley from the Institute of Public Policy Research warns that fall in the number of student visas issued could ultimately prove counter-productive.
“Steps to reduce abuse of the student visa system are welcome but if the government’s net migration target is to be met, they also need there to be a dramatic fall in the numbers of genuine students,” said.
“The irony is that the impacts on net migration will only be short-lived because most students stay only for a short time. Reduced immigration today means reduced emigration in a year or two’s time, which could see net migration rise again.”
This week Habib Rahman, Chief Executive of Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) said during the coming year the organisation will focus on campaigning against the Government’s restrictions on family migration.
Speaking at the JCWI’s AGM in London on Monday, Mr Rahman said the Immigration Rule changes, in particular the minimum £18,600 income requirement to bring in a non-EU spouse or partner, introduced by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) in July were dividing families and hitting British people.
Universities UK issued a warning earlier this month that Britain’s reputation in education was being damaged abroad, and that curbs on overseas students had reduced their numbers by 11,000 and led to more than 450 colleges pulling out of the market.
International students have faced a torrid time in the UK over the past two years, with multiple Immigration Rule changes and the sudden withdrawal of the post study work visa (PSW).
The UKBA have closed down over 500 private colleges, leaving many thousands of students ‘high and dry’ with no money and a cancelled visa to add to their problems.
In addition, two government owned institutions have had their Tier 4 sponsors licences revoked – London Metropolitan and Bilston College.
If you need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Tier 2, Tier 4, applying for university if your college has closed down, Visa, ILR, Settlement, Citizenship, Dependant Visa or an appeal against a UK Border Agency or British Embassy refusal, or if you have been waiting for a reply from the Home Office for longer than a year, please email:
Related immigration articles:
Looking for a Tier 4 college or University or need advice?