Immigration Statistics

28 Aug 2015

The ONS statistical bulletin published yesterday is a snapshot of what happened in the year to 31 March. The bulletin is on ONS website ( and reveals a more complex picture than that painted by the media.

  • The number of long term immigrants rose from 552,000 to 636,000 (+15.2%) of whom 284,000 came from outside the EU (+8.8%) and 269,000 from within the EU (+26.2%).
  • Emigration fell from 316,000 to 307,000 (-2.8%).
  • 290,000 people came for work related reasons (+28.8%) but 107,000 of them didn’t have a job to go to.
  • Foreign students coming to study in this country rose from 176,000 to 188,000 (+6.8%).
  • The top 5 non-EU countries from which people came (excluding general visitors and those in transit) were (1) China, (2) India, (3) USA, (4) Australia, (5) Saudi Arabia.
  • The top 5 EU countries whose citizens registered for a National Insurance Number were (1) Romania, (2) Poland, (3) Italy, (4) Spain, (5) Bulgaria.
  • ONS confidence in the accuracy of the data is 95%.

Last month I wrote about changes to Tier 2 and how these might affect the NHS. Here’s a different perspective for British industry which indicates the complexity of the issue. Baroness (Martha) Lane-Fox of Soho, Lord (Digby) Jones of Birmingham, Simon Walker (Director General of the IoD) and others have recently written about the economy’s need of skilled labour. They require that the government “must consider removing university international students from any migration target, as well as increase opportunities for qualified international graduates to remain in the UK, for some time at least, once they complete their studies.”

I find myself reflecting on some other figures; British universities and colleges are currently producing very approximately 230,000 British graduates a year in subjects related to science, technology, engineering & manufacturing. They’re turning out another 34,000 or thereabouts foreign students in the same fields. The number of visas issued to foreign graduates sponsored by British companies to move into skilled work last year was….5,600.