Skilled workers and students count for a large proportion of net migration
With the horrifying events of last week reminding us how it is fear rather than fact propelling the immigration debate, now would seem to be a good time to actually to look at the figures on immigration and what would be the effect of a Brexit.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) Migration Statistic Quarterly Report provides a wealth of data on the inflow and outflows of migration. For the year ending 2015 net migration was 286,000. The report goes on to break down the net migration figures into the reasons for their migration.
Of the 286,000 figure 134,000, or 47 per cent of net migration, were students coming to our universities. On average since 2004, students coming to our world class universities have counted for 66 per cent of total net migration.
All parts of the Leave Campaign, including UKIP, see International Students as positive for the country and do not want this to change.
Another 78,000 people, or 28 per cent of net migration, were those coming for ‘definite jobs’, therefore filling in the skill gaps in our economy. The Leave Campaign, including UKIP, are well aware that sectors including the NHS, would collapse if these skilled workers were not recruited, and have supported an ‘Australian Style’ immigration policy to recruit these skills.
Therefore, we can assume this figure will not change if there is a Brexit.
So finally, 58,000 people of the net migration figure for 2015 were ‘looking for work’ from all around the world. The ONS figures also point to 19,000 UK citizen going to the EU ‘looking for work’ with another 24,000 British Citizens coming back to the UK without work in 2015, a sizable number from the EU.
We could unrealistically suppose that there would be no one from the EU allowed to come to the UK ‘looking for work’ after Brexit, and there would not be a massive inflow in Brits coming back from the EU without jobs after Brexit – both probable.
But even then, being very generous in our estimates, the direct effect of leaving the EU on net migration would be a net reduction of 43,000 on last year. In other words, the ‘dramatic’ effect of a Brexit would putting 15 per cent of the net migration within our control, and not necessary reduce it by that number.
When UKIP talk about the reducing net migration to 50,000, or Brexit campaigners, like Priti Patel, call for drastic reduction in migration as it is ‘out of control‘ there are only two ways this can be achieved; we cut drastically the number of international students coming to the UK, therefore destroying the international education sector worth over seven billion to our economy.
Or we drastically cut those coming to the UK with skills causing a skills shortage of massive proportions in sectors like the NHS.
The truth on migration is that there are indeed hundreds of thousands of foreigners coming to our country, and 13,000 are going to Oxford, another 4,000 are going to Bristol, and another 10,000 are going to Edinburgh, where they are they paying £29,000 per year to learn veterinary science, or £39,000 per year for a postgraduate course in Clinical Sciences and providing in effect a subsidy for UK students.
That only one in five of these students stay for further postgraduate education, or highly skilled work is a shame as we are letting go easily of a resource that many countries, like Germany, would love to nab, as shown by their reducing their countries fees for international students to zero.
There may be many reasons for supporting a Brexit, such as you don’t feel European, or that you believe our business will succeed free from the single market.
However, the idea that a vote for Brexit will mean a significant reduction in net migration simply has no statistical justification.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.