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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

Net migration falls due to declining international student numbers

Progress towards immigration target is not sustainable

Immediate release

New statistics, released today by the Office for National Statistics, show that net migration (the difference between immigration and emigration) to the UK has fallen to 153,000 in the year ending September 2012, compared to 242,000 in the year ending September 2011.

Reacting to the new figures, Sarah Mulley, Associate Director at IPPR, said:

"Today's statistics show a continued decline in net migration to the UK. But the Government's progress towards its target of reducing net migration to less than 100,000 by 2015 is still in large part being driven by falling numbers of international students. This decline in international student numbers comes at considerable economic cost to the UK at a time when we can ill afford it.

"In any case, falling student numbers will not help the Government meet its target in the medium term. Because most students stay in the UK only for a short time, reduced immigration now will mean reduced emigration in the future, which by 2015 could partially reverse the falls in net migration we are seeing now. For example, the latest research suggests that only 18% of student migrants are still in the UK after 5 years. That means that the 56,000 fall in student immigration in the year to September 2012 will only reduce net migration by just over 10,000 in the medium term, while the Government still needs to reduce net migration by 53,000 in order to meet its target."

Notes to Editors:

Today's ONS figures are at:

Jo Johnson and Nick Pearce on why foreign students are key to UK prosperity:

IPPR's latest report on student visas is available at:


Richard Darlington, 07525 481 602, [email protected]

Tessa Evans, 07875 727 298, [email protected]