UK net migration drops by a third

Posted: 28/02/2013

Figures released on 28 February show that net migration to the UK fell by a third last year. The Office for National Statistics said that there was a net flow of 163,000 migrants to the UK in the year ending June 2012, which is significantly lower than the net flow of 247,000 in the year ending June 2011. This decline in net migration is being driven by a reduction in the number of foreign students coming to the UK.

Key findings from the figures include:

  • 515,000 people immigrated to the UK in the year ending June 2012, which is significantly lower than the 589,000 who migrated the previous year. This decrease has caused the fall in net migration;
  • 197,000 migrants arrived to study in the year to June 2012, which is significantly lower than 239,000 in the previous year. Study remains the most common reason stated for migrating to the UK;
  • there was a decrease in the number of citizens immigrating to the UK from New Commonwealth countries. 117,000 citizens from New Commonwealth countries immigrated to the UK in the year ending June 2012; significantly lower than the 168,000 in the previous year;
  • in the year to December 2012, there were 209,804 visas issued for the purpose of study (excluding student visitors), a fall of 20% compared with the previous 12 months; and
  • sponsored visa applications fell 22%, with a 3% increase for the university sector and falls of 62%, 69% and 14% for further education, English language schools and independent schools, respectively.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Theresa May, the Home Secretary, have pledged to cut net migration to the tens of thousands before the next election in 2015 and these latest statistics show that their plans are having an impact.

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