Net migration to UK plummets as foreign students stay away

NET MIGRATION to the UK withered in the year to September 2012, falling a massive 37 per cent against the year up to September 2011.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said yesterday there was a small rise in the number of people emigrating from the UK, from 339,000 to 347,000, but most of the change came from the number of migrants entering the country, which fell from 581,000 to 500,000, a decline of 14 per cent.

A significant decline in the number of immigrants from Commonwealth countries made up the majority of the fall, with 60,000 fewer arriving between Autumn 2011 and 2012.

This news suggests that the government is on track to reduce net migration to below 100,000 by 2015, fulfilling the Conservative party’s main manifesto proposal on immigration from the most recent general election.

However, Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs was unimpressed by the reduction in incoming workers. “Capping economic migrants is a grave mistake. Universities in particular are being hit hard”. He added: “Freedom of movement is a vital engine for economic growth”.

When considering migrants’ reasons for moving to the UK, the ONS found that the biggest reductions had come from people moving to join others in Britain, and those who were moving to study. Just 190,000 students arrived in the UK in the year to September 2012, significantly fewer than the 246,000 arriving in the year-earlier period.

In the most recent Queen’s speech, new rules for migrants were proposed. Extra controls suggested include restricted access to the NHS and requirements for landlords to check their tenants’ legal status.