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News | Published November 30 2019

Official immigration figures align with Scion Mastery’s views on Brexit

A prominent issue within the wider Brexit debate since the result of the 2016 referendum on EU membership has been the impact that leaving the bloc will have on immigration and how it has already affected UK net migration.

According to official statistics for the year ending March 2019, EU net migration to the UK is at its lowest levels for some time, while net migration from countries outside the bloc has risen.

Yet, despite concerns that leaving the EU is already having an impact on the number of foreigners coming to the UK to work and to study at British schools and universities, the sentiment within the education services sector is very much the opposite for some, despite a decline in work-related immigration.

Inga Neaves, director at Scion Mastery, a London-based firm providing services in academic career planning, guardianship and holistic tutoring, spoke to The Parliamentary Review about her views on the impact Brexit is already having on net migration in the education sector.

Neaves said: "The prospect of leaving the EU does not seem to have affected foreign interest in attending schools and universities in Britain, despite fears to the contrary in some circles. Indeed, we continue to see reinforced positive attitudes in our clients towards the British education system.

She believes that the opportunities that Britain offers to both prospective students and workers alike has retained the UK’s status as a lucrative attraction despite the question marks over what the country’s future immigration system might look like.

“Multicultural British society is filled with energy and enthusiasm and provides endless opportunity. London is a capital of the financial and high-tech industry, art and philosophy, government and education. 

“Many parents have high ambitions for their children and they want them to receive a world-class education in an increasingly internationalised world, a world in which borders are becoming ever less consequential.”

Neaves’ views about the allure of studying in the UK appear to line up with what official immigration figures say, as of the year to March 2019. 

Overall, numbers published by the Office for National Statistics which originate from the International Passenger Survey [IPS] indicate that in the year ending March 2019, 612,000 people moved into the UK while 385,000 left the country.

Interestingly, education seems to have emerged as the main reason for immigration to the UK, as opposed to work.

For the year ending in March 2019, the IPS estimated that 218,000 people came to the UK intending to stay for one or more years for formal study, one of the highest levels recorded since 2011 and over a third of the estimated number of migrants entering the country. Notably, there has been an increase is non-EU arrivals for taking up study in Britain, mainly among Asian citizens unaffected by Brexit.

Overall, net migration for both EU and non-EU nationals coming to work in the UK over the period was 214,000, a little below the rate of those coming to study.

Of course, much has been made of the fact that when looking at EU immigration on the whole, it has been on the decline since 2016 and is at its lowest levels since 2013.

Yet, more EU citizens are still entering the UK than leaving, with the decline seemingly fuelled by a fall in the number of European citizens travelling to the UK to work rather than studying.

With an estimated 200,000 EU citizens entering the country and 141,000 leaving during the period, EU net migration for the year to March 2019 was 59,000, less than a third of the 219,000 recorded in the year ending March 2015. 

EU citizens coming to work in the UK fell to a net migration total of 92,000 in the year to March 2019, again a decline on the 190,000 recorded in the year ending June 2016.

The decline has mainly come among EU8 citizens, from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Over the period in total, 36,000 entered the UK with 43,000 leaving.

Meanwhile, from countries in the original EU15, namely Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden, 106,000 citizens came to the UK in total, with 74,000 departing.Meanwhile, net migration from Bulgaria and Romania was at 32,000 for the period [52,000 entering and 20,000 leaving in total].

Net migration for the year to March 2019 from non-EU countries was 222,000, with 333,000 entering the UK and 113,000 leaving.

Undeniably, since the 2016 referendum on EU membership a fall in work-related immigration from the EU has come, but interest in the UK’s education sector is still thriving and is being buoyed by a greater influx of non-EU citizens coming to study in Britain.

A future immigration system after Brexit which does not compromise access to Britain’s schools and universities from both EU and non-EU citizens will be paramount to ensuring that this trend continues and that those operating in the industry like Scion Mastery can continue to thrive. 

Of course, it remains inconclusive as to whether study has overtaken work as the primary motivator for immigration and what the outcome of Brexit will mean for work-related immigration on the whole, but nevertheless, the major parties do appear to have recognised the importance of easy access to UK institutions and indeed the ability of those graduating in the UK to easily remain in the country and take up work. 

With that in mind, there is reason for optimism that whatever may come of Brexit and the UK immigration system, the doors will remain open for overseas students from both the EU and further afield and that they will not be swayed from coming to Britain and enable the sector to continue to thrive and feed the UK workforce.


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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
@theparlreview
November 30 2019

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