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Students fuel record 504,000-a-year migrant numbers

Overseas students are the largest group of migrants arriving in the UK  (PA Wire)
Overseas students are the largest group of migrants arriving in the UK (PA Wire)

Net migration into the UK hit a record high of 504,000 in the year to the end of June, amid a surge in students and refugees arriving, official figures revealed on Thursday.

The Office for National Statistics said that 1.1 million people overall migrated into the country during the 12-month period, with the 704,000 arrivals from outside the EU accounting for much of the total.

They included Ukrainian and Afghan refugees, as well as people arriving from Hong Kong, although the largest contingent were students with 476,000 study visas granted during the period.

There was a rise in Indians, who overtook Chinese applicants as the largest student contingent, and Nigerians coming to study.

Others arriving in the UK during the 12-month period included 224,000 people from the European Economic Area, which includes the EU, and 135,000 returning Britons.

As well as students and those seeking protection, others arriving came to join family, while work visas accounted for 151,000 of the inflow.

By contrast, emigration totalled 560,000, giving a net migration figure of 504,000 when measured against the 1 million plus arrivals. Departing EU nationals totalled 275,000 compared to 224,000 arriving, giving a net outflow of 51,000.

Jay Lindop, from the ONS, said that “a series of world events” that were “unprecedented” had affected the figures and added: “These include the end of lockdown restrictions in the UK, the first full period following transition from the EU, the war in Ukraine, the resettlement of Afghans and the new visa route for Hong Kong British nationals, which have all contributed to the levels of immigration.

“Migration from non-EU countries, specifically students, is driving this rise. However, there has also been a large increase in the number of people migrating for a range of other reasons. This includes humanitarian protections, such as coming from Ukraine, as well as for family reasons.”

Home Secretary Suella Braverman told MPs on Wednesday: “We have failed to control our borders. That’s why I and the Prime Minister are absolutely determined to fix this problem.”

When Conservative MP Tim Loughton confronted her about a “shortage of safe and legal routes” for asylum seekers, she struggled to reply when he asked what other options there would be, besides a small-boat crossing.