Letter from the Minister for Immigration, 28 February 2013

Dear Colleague

The latest migration statistics were published today and I thought it would be helpful to pass on the details, which show the effect our reforms are having on net migration to the UK.

The key points are:

– Today’s statistics show another significant fall in net migration – down almost a third since the election.

– Net migration was 163,000 for the year ending June 2012, down from 247,000 in 2011 – a fall of 84,000. This is a positive sign that we are on the right track to bring net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands by the end of this parliament.

– Of total immigration, 55% was from nationals outside the European Economic Area (EEA), 30% was from nationals inside the EEA and 15% was returning British citizens.

– For the 12 months to December 2012, the latest period for which stats are available, the overall number of visas issued fell by 10% (to 507,701) to the lowest 12 month total for which comparable data is available.

– For the year to December 2012 there were 20% (52066) fewer student visas issued compared to 2011.

– At the same time, there was a 3% increase in sponsored student visa applications for the university sector demonstrating our reforms have deliberately favoured universities and a 9% increase in study visas issued for Chinese nationals.

– There is no limit on student numbers; universities can apply their own language tests; and graduates can stay and work if they get a graduate level job. We continue to have a great offer to international students.

– Family visas are down by 10% in the 12 months to December 2012, compared to the same period to December 2011.

– There was a 3% increase in visas issued for skilled individuals under Tier 2 showing we are attracting the brightest and best to the UK.

– The total number of grants to extend to stay has fallen 12%. This fall was largely due to a fall in study-related grants. Our selective immigration system is breaking the link between temporary and permanent migration.

As well as reducing the overall numbers we also want to make the system more selective.

We have reformed all the routes of migration to the UK to make the system more robust and to bring net migration down to sustainable levels in the tens of thousands. We have reformed the student route, rooting out colleges failing to fulfil their immigration duties and closing the post-study work route so that only graduates offered a skilled job will be able to remain in the UK after their studies to work.

We have introduced a cap on economic migration at a level which does not hurt businesses and ensured that non-European unskilled workers cannot come to the UK. We have guaranteed proper transitional controls for any new EU accession states.

To tighten up the family route we have introduced an income threshold for anyone wanting to bring to the UK a foreign spouse from outside Europe, increased the minimum probationary period before non-European spouses can apply for settlement from two years to five years and abolished the right of immediate settlement for foreign spouses where the couple have been living together overseas for at least four years.

To ensure migrants to the UK can integrate better into our society we have strengthened the English language requirement and are enhancing the ‘Life in the UK’ test, which new migrants must take, to put British history and culture at its heart.

These latest figures show that the reforms we have introduced across all the major routes of immigration are working and that we are starting to see the impact on net migration. This government believes that net migration is still at unsustainable levels and that it will need to come down further. We have robust policies to make that happen and we will be unstinting in pursuing them.

Yours sincerely
Mark Harper MP

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  1. lifelogic
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    I do not imagine for one moment it is “the effect our reforms are having on net migration to the UK”. It is the effect the incompetent management of the economy (high taxes, expensive energy, no vision and a huge largely parasitic state sector) are having on growth and jobs. It is that that is deterring some and pushing others away. When we get some growth (if we ever get do a sensible management of the economy) it will resume. Even at these rates it is heading for double the population in 100 years or less with typical fertility rates.

    Still even

    • lifelogic
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps I have Cameron & Osborne all wrong – The endless anti business measures, the daft employment laws, the banks sucking back funding, the high price religious energy, the huge over paid, suffocating, state sector, the lack of vision, the absurdly high tax rates, the gender neutral insurance, the no retirement – all these are perhaps just his way of reducing uncontrolled immigration – This given that he will clearly never confront the real issue, is all he can do.

      Banks still killing industry and jobs I see, despite the governments support for (not) lending scheme.

      • zorro
        Posted March 4, 2013 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

        I seem to recall that when this scheme was launched, some of us were doubtful as to its impact and unsure whether the banks would meaningfully try and lend the money. It looks as if our suspicions were justified. The lending to business has been considerably lower than claimed, and the money that has been lent appears to have found its way into the property market to provide cheap mortgages and keep house prices over-inflated…..exactly the opposite of what is needed.


      • me
        Posted March 4, 2013 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

        I’ve come to a similar conclusion with regard to energy policy.

        You’d have to be completely insane to think it’s a good idea to spend hundreds of billions on wind turbines, not even Cameron can be that stupid surely.

        So maybe it’s all a plan to corner the market in rare earth metals by importing them ostensibly for wind farms.

        • lifelogic
          Posted March 5, 2013 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

          I just seems to be a plan to divert tax payers cash in to the pockets of those with connections and influence and to push up energy prices.

          Surely no on actually believes it any more unless paid to believe. Half an hour with a calculator and an envelope is enough to show it is both economic and environmental nonsense.

      • Bazman
        Posted March 7, 2013 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

        Again you are talking about employment laws lifelogic Specifically which are daft? An easy question. If you cannot answer such a simple question do not write propaganda and ‘think’. Your idea of a hire and fire at will is not real.

        • lifelogic
          Posted March 8, 2013 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

          Specifically any law that restrict the right to fire employees or lay them off when not required.

          Such laws deter people offering jobs at all, and are counter productive. In short nearly all of employment law.

          • Bazman
            Posted March 9, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

            Short term contracts, self employed, umbrella companies, agencies etc. What do you have to say about them? I mean this is why all this exists. To allow employers temporary workers.
            You cannot employ someone for 30 years and just lay them off when you feel like it with no compensation. If you think this you is right then you are wrong. This is what you really want is it not? No reply? No idea have you?

  2. Nick
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    So what’s missing?

    The break down as to who is a net contributor, and who’s a net consumer of government resources.

    (argument about racism left out-ed)
    We need to get rid of, and stop the migrants who are net consumers.

    Reply Surely not if they are paying their own bills. The governemnt does need to look at, and is looking at, eligibility to benefits related to contributions record.

    • Ben Kelly
      Posted March 5, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      Surely a net consumer is not paying their own bills.

      There is often an argument made that immigrants are spending money in our communities and contributing to the economy, however if government must become bigger in order to accomodate them (and it does) then the contribution is hugely offset.

      Similarly the argument goes that jobs in a community are not finite. Granted but a sensible approach would be to work towards full employment of existing citizens before inviting more in. If we don’t have the talent in this country then companies should train the talent before asking government to support new arrivals who displace the incumbents. The country at present appears to be run for business and the EU rather than citizens.

      There should be no further unskilled immigration until we have full employment. Unskilled should include tradesmen for this purpose and certainly, cleaners, coffee servers and sandwich makers. There are enough people claiming benefits at present to fill these roles.

    • lifelogic
      Posted March 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      By net consumers he means people not paying enough in taxes. A family even earning £100,000 with three children at school, health needs and perhaps sick elderly relatives (with no personal funds) may still not pay in enough to the system net.

      And there is still all the defence, general bureaucracy, the EU, and countless other areas to be paid for.

  3. Vanessa
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    By calling it “net migration” you do not tell us how many people from the EU or foreign lands come here. The number is hidden in the amount of Brits leaving this country with their expertise and funding. You are letting in (some people who do not make a financial contribution -ed). These figures mean nothing.

    • zorro
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      Migration Statistics Quarterly Report, February 2013

      Latest provisional data show 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.

      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.

      352,000 emigrants left the UK in the year ending June 2012, similar to the estimate of 342,000 in the year to June 2011.

      I have taken the above from the latest quarterly report….There has been a good fall in inward migration which has largely been caused by the fall in student visas issued over the last year. You will recall that the Points Based System had been roundly abused with ‘all the birds of heaven flocking under the tree’……A lot of the doubtful students have not been allowed to come under Tier 4…..However, a new shorter term student route has been set up which is not included in the ONS statistics for long term migration. Unsurprisingly, the figure for short term student entries has risen significantly….


      • zorro
        Posted March 4, 2013 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

        The number of foreign national admissions to UK universities has risen by 8%….


    • Mark
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

      The most recent data are available here:


      It will probably take another 6 months before we get a clearer idea of the impact on bogus student numbers (i.e. when the start of the academic year in late autumn is fully included in the numbers, as these numbers only go to June 2012).

      The numbers by citizenship were

      British – 76,000……….155,000……….(79,000)

      EU 15 – 82,000………….49,000 ……….33,000
      EU A8 – 62,000…………32,000………..30,000
      Oth EU – 13,000…………5,000…………..8,000
      Total EU – 157,000……86,000…………72,000
      Old – 32,000…………….20,000………..12,000
      New – 117,000………….42,000………..75,000

      Other – 133,000………..48,000………..84,000

      Non-British 439,000…197,000……..242,000

      TOTAL 515,000………..352,000……..163,000

      Numbers may not tally due to rounding

      Old Commonwealth = Can Aus NZ RSA

      To count as migrating in the statistics, a declared intention to stay for a year or more is required.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted March 5, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

        Oh, so we lose 79,000 British citizens, who are replaced three times over by 242,000 foreigners, plus there are the large number of children of foreign parents now being born in this country, and the government congratulates itself and tells us that we have nothing to worry about.

      • lifelogic
        Posted March 5, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

        To count as migrating in the statistics, a declared intention to stay for a year or more is required.

        Which no doubt very many do not declare – even if they have that intention.

  4. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Good. Next the Minister will talk about the 400 professional people leaving the UK per day in search of more lucrative work and lower taxes elsewhere. I got this information not from a UK political or media source but from Russia Today (RT). Come on, don’t be so bashful; talk about it, particularly when discussing the reducing level of the 40% tax threshold and the means testing of child benefit.

    • brian
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

      Data from Russia Today (RT)? I would be circumspect about anything from the Kremlin’s news outlet.

      • zorro
        Posted March 5, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

        I know, just as well we have the BBC in which we can implicitly trust….. 😉


    • zorro
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      The Minister is unlikely to highlight this figure in his reports….. 🙂 ……or the figure of EU nationals claiming child benefit for their families who are not resident in the UK.


  5. JimF
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink
  6. uanime5
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Today’s statistics show another significant fall in net migration – down almost a third since the election.

    So either less people are coming or more people are leaving. Given how the value of the pound is falling compared to other currencies I’m guessing the former because it’s now less profitable to work in the UK.

    • A different Simon
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      Most people with aspirations have already left Uanime5 .

      These were the people the UK needed to retain ; engineers , scientists , entrepreneurs who would have created jobs .

      A flight of human and intellectual capital from the UK even more serious than the flight of money from the UK .

      I don’t believe the minister when he says the UK is attracting the “brightest and best” from overseas .

      • lifelogic
        Posted March 4, 2013 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

        How would he know if he is getting the brightest and best? There is no control or tests whatever for EU immigration. Given the system of high benefits in the UK and the very high tax rates he is probably getting more net benefit claimants, elderly and sick than tax payers I would suspect.

        He is unlikely to be attracting the wealthy, unless they are very wealthy nondoms with good tax advisers.

        • P O Pensioner
          Posted March 5, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

          Lifelogic -You are correct.
          It’s classic government spin!

      • uanime5
        Posted March 5, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

        Given how badly engineers and scientists were paid by private companies in the UK is it any surprise that they left. Is it any surprise that companies can’t get engineers and scientists when they pay them so badly compared to other countries.

        • Lindsay McDougall
          Posted March 5, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

          Engineers go where the work is and the amount of money paid to engineers depends on the rate of return (economic or financial) that the project yields. Since the UK is a fully developed economy, projects in the UK to replace existing infrastructure (or built on expensive land) yield lower rates of return than (for example) high speed railway lines built in China.

          It’s been this way for a long time. When I graduated in 1967, my salary as a civil engineer was £975 per annum. Graduates working in the City started on between £1200 and £1400 per annum. However, a young engineer working in Saudi Arabia got a 75% mark up on his UK salary tax free, plus a hard living allowance of 30 shillings a day at remote sites. He couldn’t get that now; there is too much competition.

        • lifelogic
          Posted March 5, 2013 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

          The are underpaid because they are in a world market. More than certain protected professions.

          But Rolls Royce aero pay circa £38K for good new graduates. No too bad for Derby.

    • ian wragg
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      I believe there are approximately 146,000 skilled Brits leaving the country each year and the majority of inward immigration is returning pensioners and low skilled people.
      We may now have reduced net immigration but this diguises the true loss to the economy and the drain on the taxpayer.
      Whyy are students allowed free access to the NHS.
      Why are they allowed to bring their families and the kids get free education.
      I worked overseas for 23 years and I or my employer had to pay for these things.

    • Edward2
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      Well Uni, its not often I’m shocked, but your comment “its now less profitable to work in the UK”, suggesting in my view correctly, how the world has become a very competitive market for labour, for rich and poor, certainly is a shock anouncement from you.
      Soon you may be calling for competitive tax rates and labour laws in Europe which actually encourage employers to take on more staff in their businesses and for valuable members of society to stay here and contribute instead of leaving at a rate of over 250,000 per year to go to countries which welcome them with better standard of living..
      Or am I having a right wing fantasy?

      • lifelogic
        Posted March 4, 2013 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

        I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

      • uanime5
        Posted March 5, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        My comment was about how it’s less profitable for immigrants from poorer countries to work in the UK due the pound declining in value, not because the wealthy can’t pay themselves a lot of money.

        Allow me to explain this with a hypothetical example. Let’s say that a man in Poland can earn 10,000 Złoty per year working a Polish supermarket or he can go to the UK and earn £10,000 a year working in a UK supermarket. If one pound is worth ten Złoty then he’ll be effectively earning 100,000 Złoty per year making working in the UK much more lucrative.

        However if the value of the pound against the Złoty fall to two złoty per pound then he’s only making 20,000 Złoty per year and if the costs of living in the UK is about 10,000 Złoty then he won’t be making any additional money. So if the difference in currency has decreased then the Polish man has less incentive to work in the UK. So there will be less immigration from Poland because it’s less profitable.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted March 5, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

          Yesterday it was 4.8 Zloty to the pound, five years ago on March 4th 2008 it was 4.6 Zloty to the pound; it has been up and down during that period but not by huge amounts; in May 2004 it was about 7.0, so the pound has indeed gone down against the Zloty since Poland joined the EU; but if it’s been as high as 10 then that must have been a long time ago.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 5, 2013 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

          I tale your point and I was only teasing but I read an article recently (no not in theDaily Mail! )that said the difference between the average wage in the UK versus Romania and Bulgaria is approx a 6 times multiple.
          I know the pound has weakened recently but it would have to go a lot more to make it relatively unprofitable to come here and work.

        • zorro
          Posted March 5, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

          I know that the figures that you quote are an example, but the pound has hardly fallen so massively against the zloty, has it, so your argument lacks validity in this case?……In fact, over the last 7 years it has been pretty stable at around 4.8 zlotys to the pound.


  7. James Reade
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Another great example of the peculiar idea of making Britain less of a red tape place for doing business. Not if you want to employ someone who doesn’t have a British birth certificate, that is.

    The most peculiar thing though is how your party seeks to punish one of our most successful export industries, notably higher education. These are the easiest visas to crack down on, and low and behold, that’s what’s going on. I note a little less triumphalism in how many fewer student visas are being granted in this letter from the immigration secretary, and in fact I note some wonderfully selective bits of evidence being presented.

    An increase in applications? An increase in Chinese students? Well what about how many applications were refused? What about non-Chinese students? Why not release the total number?

    It just boggles the mind to think how this government decides to attack one of its most export intensive industries directly, and call this a “success”. And to think you just go along with this John, and don’t see the blatant contradiction in your position on freeing up markets.

    Finally: “The total number of grants to extend to stay has fallen 12%. This fall was largely due to a fall in study-related grants”

    Another great example of human capital lost to us, productive output, possibly forever – yet this is cited as a success! By stopping those that study here from working afterwards, we turn away some of the most innovative people around, and we refuse them a chance to pay back the country that helped them gain that human capital. It’s utter madness beyond comprehension. Do you think Silicon Valley would have happened with such restrictions on student visas in the US?

    Reply Student visas to reputable institutions are up. Bogus Colleges have been shut down.

    • Gary
      Posted March 5, 2013 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      @James Reade – Maybe it’s a wild idea, but the interests of the local population in a democracry should come before the interests of a small section of “business”.

      Universities are non-profit making and have charitable status or similar. If they are actually businesses selling a product or service, then maybe it is about time fees from overseas student included VAT. “Supporting” an “industry” that is not profitable and is heavily state subsidised is not the best allocation of resources.

      Are we really losing valuable human capital?
      When the post study work visa was easily availbale to overseas students then two thirds were in lower skilled work. Which is actually about the same proportion for recent UK graduates. We have a surplus of graduates and massive overqualification rates.

      P.S. You may also not have noticed, but the number of UK students starting post grad studies this year fell 8% (while overseas fell 2%). Postgrad courses in the UK are looking less attractive and it not only down to visas.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted March 5, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      I am very pro foreign students coming here and doing decent courses at proper institutions. Indeed I see no reason why appropriately funded students should not be allowed to come here without English and do an English course here before commencing their degree, as was happening at my old uni.

      But I have not seen any financial breakdown that does a proper cost benefit equation for the UK as a whole of foreign students. Sure foreign students are profitable for the colleges. However you need to count in things like the free NHS they (and their family, and servants I kid you not, and so on) are given from day one in this country, the free state schooling their children will get while they are here, and so on. Having seen it close up and personal I know for instance it is quite common for folk from some countries with no state medical provision to come here as a student in order to get their family member free access to the NHS, so the burden on the NHS is much greater than average because ill people (from some countries) are more likely to come here!

      I also think the hours students are permitted to work while studying can swamp locals out of bar work etc in some places. I don’t see why folk who would otherwise not be entitled to work should necessarily be allowed to work here, if they cannot afford to support themselves without working don’t let them in. And I think the numbers staying on to work after graduating are too high, especially those from certain countries who in my view abuse the welcome here. The Brits displaced from the workforce and onto state benefits etc should be counted into any proper financial analysis of the impact of foreign students on the UK financially.(etc etc)Some abuses has been stamped out, but others continue, an easy example would be the numbers taking many years to pass a one years masters degree is far too high. It is cheaper for them to keep failing a module and be invited back to complete it – primarily in order to get a student visa for another year as cheaply as possible, rather than pay for another course or another way of getting a visa to remain in the country. I would limit them to say 3 years to do a one-year course.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 5, 2013 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      Higher education is an import industry; look at the (word left out-ed) statistics quoted by Mark:

      “In thousands, since 2006:


      These figures show that students account for a substantial portion of total net immigration flows, and that the proportion going home at the end of their courses is very low: the crude figure was below 30% in 2011.”

      So on those figures over just six years your wonderful higher education has been responsible for (the arrival-ed) a net total of 771,000 additional people to this country, and now the rest of us have to accept that they are sharing our (country-ed rest left out)

      Reply: I see nothing wrong with us inviting in ove rseas students to pay for good courses at our universities – it helps pay our way. Nor do I see anything wrong with the graduates that result being allowed to stay for a period after graduating to gain some work experience before returning to their own countries.

      • Mark
        Posted March 6, 2013 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

        reply to reply:

        Unfortunately the evidence doesn’t support the contention that overseas students are all paying full cost fees, but rather that many of them are being subsidised by taxpayers; nor does it show that those who stay on only remain for a relatively brief period of work experience, but rather that the majority seem to stay permanently, because they don’t show up in emigration numbers.

        I am aware there was a study done that claimed to show that many students do leave: unfortunately, it couldn’t account for students it no longer could trace, and assumed that they had returned, rather than overstayed their visas.

        We also have some data on known overstayers, many of whom have not been pursued, but instead are usually permitted to stay.

        It would be good to return to the situation of the 1990s and before where the students who came were mainly the most able who enriched our universities, who then returned to their countries and often acted as ambassadors for the UK as a result of their positive experiences.

    • zorro
      Posted March 5, 2013 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

      You wouldn’t by chance have any interest in English language colleges would you?……It was doubtless very profitable for colleges to get fees from countless students, but not particularly for HMG with the associated social costs and long term migration…..


  8. Terry
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    And this is good news, is it? For instance, just why are overseas students permitted to remain here to say, fill a vacant post upon completion of their degree course? Surely, that policy denies a British post graduate that position? Foreigners will always take a lesser salary to get the job. And I hope China is not getting a subsidy for sending there youth here. They are much richer than the UK or does that not matter?

    Although the declining numbers is an improvement on that Labour lot, it is nothing to celebrate. The country is grotesquely over populated and the current restrictions are not harsh enough. And we have the pending (relaxation for Bulgarians and Romanians -ed).

    That they will all come here, I have no doubt, (words left out -ed)
    And who can blame them, when they see the UK as a very soft touch, a stupid country that gives out free luxury (relatively speaking) homes to the immigrants in preference to their own people and provides money for nothing in a multitude of benefits and free, unlimited health care included. (words left out-ed)
    No, Mark Harper MP, you have nothing to be pleased about, so take off the rose-tinted and do not take the electorate as fools, as does the PM but do something, much more to protect the fate of us British citizens. Or you will be very sorry or do you already realise, that is your fate.

  9. matthu
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    We had a number of changes to the Student visa rules announced in 2011 but only effective from the middle of April 2012, and we had new rules applying to those who wished to extend their visa, but those only came into effect from October 2012.

    Neither of these policies would be expected to have had much of an effect in the figures for 12 months to June 2012 (certainly they would not have impacted net migration by a third).

    Was there any other visa change that had such a big impact on net migration?

    If not, why is the government claiming credit for their policies having reduced net migration by a third in the year to June 2012?

    If it was really the slump in the economy affecting job availability that had the bigger impact on net migration, are we to infer that the slump in the economy was all planned as part of government policy to reduce net migration?

    • Mark
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

      The numbers show a reduction in net immigration of students starting courses of about 30,000, and a switch from net immigration of 12,000 to net emigration of 28,000 – a turnround of 40,000 – for those moving for employment reasons. There is also a fall in family immigration of 9,000.

      Students finishing course are not well captured by these data. For that you need the LTIM Table 2.05: Usual occupation prior to migration. The last one of those I can find is here:


      and shows the number of emigrants who were students prior to emigrating as substantially less than the numbers of immigrants whose purpose is formal study. In thousands, since 2006:


      These figures show that students account for a substantial portion of total net immigration flows, and that the proportion going home at the end of their courses is very low: the crude figure was below 30% in 2011.

      Of course, this period includes unknown but large numbers of sham students, many of whom will now have been blocked.

      In my view there are questions even about those who remain.

      On the one hand the minister trumpets an upsurge in Chinese students, while we learn that China is busily engaged in cyber and industrial espionage which students might be well placed to execute.

      It is doubtful whether we need to import so many graduates to do jobs given the extent of graduate unemployment.

      The financial data on fees earned by universities suggest that many overseas students are being subsidised by taxpayers. They also consume resources for housing etc.

      Even with bogus colleges closed down, it seems that many overseas students are here for “cardboard degrees”, where they are awarded a degree even if they do little academic work, simply because they pay a fee and their numbers are not penalty capped for BIS funding. (words left out ed)We already are hearing of big tuition fee payment backlogs from EU students: the suspicion must be that these will end up having to be largely written off. It’s clear there should be a system of up-front security from other EU nations if we educate their students.

      The government may have made a good start, but it has a long way to go. Part of the problem lies in recognising the real problem areas.

      • Mark
        Posted March 5, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink
      • Gary
        Posted March 5, 2013 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        “These figures show that students account for a substantial portion of total net immigration flows”

        One of the problems with that conclusion is that many come as students and leave “to look for or start work” in another country. So no one can be quite certain how many students stay and how many leave.

        I do agree that up until recently overseas students were effectively subsidised (e.g. 16% of full time students, but their fees only contributed 8% of university income). I think overseas fees have been rising a lot to rectify that, while some univesrities like Cambridge are shifting more of their endowment income etc towards helping domestic students. I think these factors will have a larger effect on overseas student numbers than any changes the government have made.

        • Mark
          Posted March 5, 2013 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

          I agree that the figures I presented do not capture students who stay on for say two years and then return home. But by combining the data in the way I have, I think I have a good approximation to the numbers who return at the end of their courses. You can look at the numbers for earlier times that I quoted in answer to Denis Cooper to see that using my basis it was the case that most students went home when their course finished.

          However, if students were emigrating after staying on for a year or two, we would see an upsurge in emigration of professional/managerial emigrants reported in Table 2.05 to match the apparent rise in student immigration I presented. Instead we see an increase in net inward migration of professional/managerial people, with a substantial increase in immigration offset by a modest increase in emigration.

  10. Terry
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Mr Harper and his department should (look ast the Us experience-ed)

    to get a feel for what is going to happen here, given the existing immigrant population of the UK . Here is a piece of the discussion

    U.S. immigration and population growth

    Unless we act to change our country’s immigration policies, U.S. population will double this century – practically within the lifetimes of children born today.5 By the year 2020, if current population trends continue, the U.S. will add enough population to create another New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, San Francisco, Indianapolis, San Jose, Memphis, Washington D.C., Jacksonville, Milwaukee, Boston, Columbus, New Orleans, Cleveland, Denver, Seattle, and El Paso – plus the next 75 largest cities in the U.S.3 – if we don’t act now to stabilize U.S. population.

    Population growth is influenced by three factors: mortality (the death rate, which has been steadily decreasing in the U.S.2), birth rates or fertility (children per woman) and net immigration (immigration minus emigration).29 Unlike in developing countries, fertility (children per woman) is no longer the significant contributor to U.S. population growth. In fact, overall U.S. fertility is slightly less than replacement level and has not exceeded replacement level since 1972.

    Immigration is the largest factor contributing to population growth in the U.S. Immigration contributes over 2.25 million people to the U.S. population annually (1.5 million legal immigrants and illegal immigrants as of 2001-2002, now estimated at 1.7 million in 2003) plus 750,000 births to immigrant woman annually).31, 38 The total foreign-born population in the U.S. is now 31.1 million, a record 57% increase since 1990. 9-11 million of those are here illegally – a 4.5 million increase since 1990.

    Be afraid for your National identity, or don’t you care what happens to your grandchildren and their offspring?

  11. Nina Andreeva
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    “We have … ensured that non-European unskilled workers cannot come to the UK.” would be validated if you told us where of the “total immigration, 55% was from nationals outside the European Economic Area (EEA),” these people actually came from. I bet the vast bulk was from non OECD states.

  12. Mike
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    How exactly does the ONS compile these statistics?

    I work with someone whose previous job was building a new computer system for the border agency and she swears that neither the old system, or the new one, are capable of doing something as simple as counting those who come in or leave.

    So where do these figures originate?

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

      Good question to which I note there was no answer!

    • zorro
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Permalink


      Have a read of the above, and that will explain how they come up with the figures…..I know….I know…… The UKBA has no such system that can accurately count people in and out. They have been working on the very troubled E-Borders system which is supposed to solve all these problems by 2015, or failing that, by the next time Halley’s Comet is due!!


    • Mark
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

      I’m amazed if airlines and ferry companies and Eurostar can’t supply gross figures by route based on tickets used. It should be part of their standard management information. That only leaves the illegals, and private boats and planes, other shipping, and road travel in Ireland.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted March 5, 2013 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        If I can come in via ferry into Dover without bothering to show my passport I am sure others do it who dont actually have a passport.

        • Mark
          Posted March 6, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

          But have you managed the journey without a ticket? I know some manage to stowaway in trucks, but those numbers are small.

    • Mark
      Posted March 5, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      Most of the figures on migration are derived from the International Passenger Survey.


      I note this:

      It has been noted since spring 2009 that there has been an increase in the proportion of respondents in the IPS overseas travel and tourism sample who are starting their visit compared to the proportion ending their visit.

      Well I never – people abusing the purpose of their visa?

      Perhaps we should have controls similar to those in the US, where foreigners are fingerprinted on their way in and way out, and where those who do not have a right of abode have to have an onward/return ticket on entry.

      • Mark
        Posted March 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

        More on the methodology here:


        You will note that until 2009, many ports were not monitored at all (and some still aren’t) – see page 21. It was this, and the rise of the cheap airlines, that led to missing the large numbers of EU migrants following the A8 accession to the EU. It took from 2006 until 2009 for the method to be changed after the hole had been identified – a (intentional?) delay that masked what happened.

        • Mike
          Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:46 am | Permalink

          Thank you Mark,

          So skimming the document and summarising the procedure…

          They don’t actually have a clue. They don’t know how many people are coming or going unless they answer the survey truthfully.

          Why do they think that potential illegal immigrants would tell the first polser they meet in their target country of their intentions?

  13. Terry
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Now, here’s a mud-like substance in my face!
    I do not what went wrong, as everything I wrote was obliterated and despite several attempts to re-cycle, they remained deleted. Now they are back.

    So, I take my complaints back and am pleased to do so. So sorry. John please remove my complaints re freedom of speech as they appear, no longer relevant.

  14. Iain Gill
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    And the (overseas-ed) outsourcers still have tens of thousands of (foreign-ed) nationals working in the country, mostly originally entering on intra company transfer visas, many subcontracted into other organisations for less than a Brit can afford to work for. They are still given 12 months free of national insurance, and ongoing big tax dispensations that Brits do not get if working away from home within the UK. They continue to be allowed to bring in a spouse who gets unrestricted rights to work. They bring in family all of which get free NHS from day one regardless of the fact that many have serious pre existing conditions before they leave (their home country-ed). Many go onto get indefinite leave to remain simply for working here a while (this route is supposed to be being shut but there are tens of thousands still lined up to get it). Some at the lower end of the scale are given short term visas but are paired with a partner (overseas-ed) and they alternate their time here and between the 2 of them permanently deprive a Brit of a job.

    What is a “graduate level job” by the governments definition? Because its likely to be below grad entry level in London especially if current experience is anything to go by.

    Frankly John you know this stuff, I am pretty sure you are privately of a similar view as me on this matter, you really need to tell the government in no uncertain terms that their performance is very much not good enough.

    • zorro
      Posted March 5, 2013 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

      They don’t care…….they are obviously content to carry on with this iniquitous arrangement which is clearly to the detriment of UK nationals. Don’t expect any better mood music from Cast Elastic after his latest pronouncements in India…..but then you have to remember that he is batting for the banks so that they can get their fingers into the mass Indian market. Think of all that lovely debt for them….


  15. Terry
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    What is going on here? All of my postings to this blog today, have been removed bar the one above, apologising for my complaints which, at the time, were valid.

    My postings were then apparently reinstated, so I apologised for my complaining about the apparent lack of freedom of speech when they were removed.

    Now they have disappeared again. Is this a Web Bug problem or is it a case of your censorship of anti-Government comments? This does not look very good to a democratic blogger.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted March 5, 2013 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      Terry – Mr Redwood is a very busy man.

  16. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Am I correct in speculating that if students were excluded from the figures then it would be found that net immigration had risen rather than fallen?

    The number of new student visas issued dropped by 52,066 in 2012.

    So if net immigration of all types has dropped by 84,000, only about 32,000 of that drop is not accounted for the reduction in new student visas.

    But in parallel to that reduction in the gross inflow of supposed students during 2012, at least some of the very large number of supposed students who were already here at the start of 2012 will have done what they should almost all do and gone back home.

    And it would be very large numbers of supposed students already here, because if the 52,066 drop in new visas was a 20% reduction then there must have been about 260,000 new visas in 2011, reduced to about 208,000 in 2012.

    So those who do what they should almost all do, leave the country on completion of their studies, contribute to the gross outflow which is set against the gross inflow.

    In other words, in recent years we allowed in large and probably increasing numbers of supposed students so there was an accumulation, some of them have gone home, and now we are letting in fewer supposed students than before and fewer than the numbers who are leaving.

    It’s a bit like the old maths problem of filling a bath with the plug out; with a certain flow from the tap the water will equilibrate at a level so that the outflow down the drain matches the inflow, but if the inflow from the tap is then reduced the outflow will exceed the inflow until the water has dropped to the new equilibrium level.

    I realise that it’s a long-established practice to classify students as immigrants, even though they would be better classified separately as “temporary residents for the purpose of study”, but suppose that we take all the foreign students out of the equation and just look at the totals for other types of immigrants and emigrants.

    So would it be the case that after excluding the supposed students, net immigration has actually risen rather than fallen?

    • Mark
      Posted March 5, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      It is not the case any more that students tend to go home at the end of their courses. See the figures I have posted elsewhere in the thread that show the proportion of students who leave when their course ends has been declining and is now as few as 30% of the students coming in. Attempts to remove “students” from the figures are attempts to hide the largest source of net immigration we have.

      • Mark
        Posted March 5, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

        These figures can be compared with the average for 1991-1995, which showed 52,000 students per year immigrating for formal study, and emigration of 49,000 whose occupation was student prior to departure.

        Back then nearly everyone did indeed leave at the end of their courses.

        I see little reason why we shouldn’t aim to return to how things were in 1991-1995.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted March 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink


          My speculation was prompted by noticing that the letter specifically highlighted a reduction in the inflow of foreign students but remained silent about any change in the outflow of foreign students.

          Therefore, was it possible that the outflow of foreign students had increased while the inflow had decreased, taking the total student effect on net immigration above the 52,066 drop in the inflow, and possibly above the stated 84,000 drop in net immigration of all types?

          I note that the statistics you give below stop in 2011, so I suppose that it’s still possible that there was an increase in the outflow in 2012 – because in a number of ways the environment was no longer quite so welcoming for supposed students to stay in the country, whether they were real students who had completed real courses or sham students who had never really studied anything.

          The statistics you quote are appalling.

          When I was at university there were overseas students but the default position was that when they completed, or if they abandoned, their studies then they left the country; only a small minority were considered to be so good that they were invited to stay here.

          I don’t know what the hell the government, and the universities and colleges, think they are doing when they allow this to become a backdoor route for unwanted mass immigration, and again I notice the letter restates the idiotic position that there is NO LIMIT on the number of foreign students who can come here and then stay on afterwards.

          “We continue to have a great offer to international students.”

          Yes, indeed, because the government is offering each of them not just the chance to study but also the chance to then take a share in our country, without ever bothering to asking us whether we want to share our homeland with them.

          • zorro
            Posted March 5, 2013 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

            Be careful, some people might think that the government doesn’t care that much about the interests of British voters……I guess that we can always employ people to build a university for Indian students in each English town, that might help the government’s aim….though it might not help their net migration aspirations…..oh, I wonder if they’ve noticed the implicit conflict there?


    • Mark
      Posted March 5, 2013 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

      Student visas include student visitor visas which last less than a year and which are excluded from immigration data in consequence. The statistics are not very good at capturing those who overstay a visa.

  17. Antisthenes
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    These figures are encouraging we often forget that despite being in coalition the Conservatives are being quite successful in some areas and reforms are occurring. To be regretted is that the Conservatives are not much good at beating their own drum, too gentlemanly perhaps. The left are consummate bully boys/girls, they are hopeless in government but their spin skills and their ability to muzzle opposition is impressive. The general public these days want cultural socialism and economic responsibility despite the two not being very happy bedfellows. No politician or political party have been able to give both hence the mass disillusionment. The left can give lashings of the former but little of the latter, which they do do as soon as they are in government. The right of course can do the opposite but are unable to when in government because the left mobilise all the vested interests against them. So we can see how the tags nice and nasty parties were born. No doubt Cameron recognised this dilemma hence his reform of the party leftward hoping that he could do both. Maybe he would have done if the left had not been so economically imprudent and bankrupt the nation. I doubt it though because on top of the economy being in ruins the state is now so structured that it caters only for the cultural socialist element and definitely not for economic responsibility.

  18. me
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    One day the net migration figures will probably go negative when the fed up Brits’ patience finally snaps and they give up on this island for good.

  19. Electro-Kevin
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    The issue is ‘net’ immigration.

    While it is a near certainty that people leaving will be self sufficient (qualified/wealthy – those we cannot afford to lose) it is not nearly so certain that those arriving will be.

    I really must make a point of the following:

    “55% from outside the EEA”

    As though origin makes a difference. I infer from this that officials think that we will be placated if immigrants are shown to come from certain places – that, by extension, we’ll be happier if shown that they fit within certain racial profiles originating from within the ‘safe’ EU. That they think we are motivated by racism.

    This is about sheer numbers and rapid cultural change. This is about keeping wealth in the country and qualified people here. Above all about not being ruled by an arrogant elite that is insulated from the effects of its own policies.

    Many of us are worried about the burgeoning Romanian/Bulgarian issue and will watch intently. The Tories will stand or fall on how they deal with it.

    Once again I must reiterate:

    If populist opinion really is ‘right wing’ bigoted and racist then why did the BNP garner so few votes at the last general election ?

    Where have the British people have ever been praised for their moderateness ?

    Instead we get Mr Cameron calling us silly names.

  20. Daniel Thomas
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    “bringing net immigration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands” has got to be the most annoying soundbite since “tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime”.

    Why do politicians keep repeating the same nonsense over and over? Why are these politicians taking people for fools? They should be having a grown up dialogue with the people not repeating soundites and slogans.

    Net immigration is a meaningless statistic if skilled people are leaving and being replaced by unskilled or no skilled. The end result is that our country is being downgraded.

  21. Mark
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure that telling the foreign wife of a British executive that she can’t come here if they’ve been in foreign postings for four years is a good idea.

  22. madasahatter
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    what a load of b——s

  23. cosmic
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    Another one of those spoof letters.

    I can’t wait for Dame Lucy’s reply.

    I wish I had an MP with a properly developed sense of humour

  24. Electro-Kevin
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    My previous comment shows much ingratitude for the Government’s efforts (despite being in coalition) I will be truly thankful for these innitiatives if they are shown not to be mere gimmicks or massaged figures.

    The distinctions with regard to ‘net’ immigration are important. The displacement of self-funded and useful people by those with little money and less in the way of skills is still taking us in the wrong direction.

    Having been displaced from my home town (the one I expected to raise our next generation in) by wave after wave of listless looking young men of unkown origins, my default setting is towards cynicism. I wish I could shake it off.

    I was raised in a properly integrated and settled multi-racial community (or did we just make it that way) which saw itself as British.

    Perhaps Labour would like to apply what has become its mantra on the economy to its own policies on immigration:

    Too hard. Too fast.

    I will never forgive them.

  25. Gary
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    And still large IT “International Staffing Agencies” send thousands of staff each year to work at client sites under tier 2 intra company transfer visas.

    (outside unchecked sites deleted-ed)
    So what changes are coming in April from Mark Harper:

    The going rate salaries will be kept at the 25th percentile for experienced skilled migrants, and a new 10th percentile salary will apply to any entry level graduate migrants under 26 years old.

    Whyare “the brightest and best” paid below average salaries?
    Why do we need “new entrant” not-yet-skilled migrants from around the world? If they don’t have the skills then what are they for?

    • Iain Gill
      Posted March 8, 2013 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

      thanks for the link Gary

      staggering that the government gets away with the ongoing open doors ICT visa arrangements

  26. Winston Smith
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Yesterday, it was announced that the Govt cannot restrict child benefit paid to parents for children that do not live and have never lived in the UK. So, this Govt removes my CB and punishes me for improving myself and for preferring our children to be brought up by their own mother, but continues to pay CB benefit to hundreds of thousands of families that do not and will not live here. Madness. Vote LibLabCon for more of the same.

    • zorro
      Posted March 5, 2013 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

      You are British though, and expected to sit back and just take it like a man…..They do it, because we are sheep to be sheared with no EU court to support our entitlements…..


  27. Barbara
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Immigration is down, well done, but does it go far enough, I don’t think so this is the tip of the iceburg. Our problem is those who come to study some do some don’t and they hide in the black economy, and think they have the right to remain. We are still in the situation where there are far to many here, and I’m sorry to say, not wanted by the indigenous peoples’ of these islands on such a scale. (More arrivals from Romania and Bulgaria-ed) will come and with it effects on housing, schools, nhs, and social services to the detriment of the British people, we are already over crowed and living in some areas with great difficulties. Sooner or later we will see this overspill to anger and we all know what may happen. Haven’t we already seen it recently?
    NO, what any government should so in the circumstances is close the door for a time, sort out all those here illegally and return them whence they came. Take control back into our own hands before its to late. Of course they won’t no one as the courage of will to tackle it not at the moment within parliament. Touching round the edges won’t work or satisfy, action is what will, and strong action is needed before its to late.

  28. David Saunders
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    As usual, arrogant Cameron knows best.

  29. Normandee
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Too little too late.

  30. muddyman
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    A demographic assessment of the UK indicates that a population of 30 million is the balanced maximum. We seem to be a little above that figure! , does the Government intend to do anything about it?.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 5, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      Yes; most of our politicians loath and despise the established British population, and especially the English, so no doubt the government will do whatever it can to get them to leave.

      Rather like Bertolt Brecht’s famous:

      “Some party hack decreed that the people
      had lost the government’s confidence
      and could only regain it with redoubled effort.
      If that is the case, would it not be be simpler,
      If the government simply dissolved the people
      And elected another?”

    • zorro
      Posted March 5, 2013 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      Compulsory attendance at an NHS hospital on a weekly basis should do it one way or another, leaving you in the unique care of Minister Jeremy Hunt, CEO Sir David Nicholson, (etc etc)

      (Daily Mail commentaries on problems in NHS deleted-ed)

      What more do you want?


  31. Dennis
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    I see one comment said ‘The end result is that our country is being downgraded’.

    Well it can be considered as just deserts and our comeuppance as we have ripped off most of other countries labour and natural resources to become as rich as we are. Those who did so are long gone but now we are repaying.

    etc etc

  32. lojolondon
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    If you ever feel tempted to question the bias of the BBC, just note the stony silence when good news or a notable achievement ever happens for the Conservatives.

    Right now they are fully focussed on Vicky Pryce conviction, the “tragedy” of the death of Chavez, and the myriad “Dangers of processed meat”.
    No space for the 2000 people who died in NHS Staffs, the violence in the Middle East, or the top story on most other papers, Vicky Pryce had told (top Lib dems it is alleged-ed) of the points-swap!

  33. Dioclese
    Posted March 9, 2013 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Whilst I appreciate you publishing this ‘informative’ document, I am forced to note, Mr redwood, that you do not comment on it. Why is that, exactly?

    Reply: I am inviting others to comment on it. I have nothing to add to the facts set out in it.

  34. หนังx ra-
    Posted September 12, 2014 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    It’s truly very complicated in this busy life to listen news on TV, so I only use internet for that purpose, and get
    the most up-to-date news.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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