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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

Progress towards net migration target falters

Government running out of options to reduce net migration.

New statistics, released today by the Office for National Statistics, show that net migration (the difference between immigration and emigration) to the UK fell to 176,000 in 2012, compared to 215,000 in 2011, although the fall is not statistically significant. This represents an increase in net migration compared to the year to September 2012, when net migration was estimated at 153,000.

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

"Today's statistics suggest that the Government is running out of options to meet its target to reduce net migration to less than 100,000 by 2015. Recent declines have been driven in large part by falling numbers of international students, which has come at a high economic cost, but this trend now appears to be levelling off. The Government cannot further reduce student numbers without imposing even more significant costs on the education sector and the UK economy. Indeed, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has stated its ambition to attract an additional 90,000 international students to the UK by 2018, recognising the importance of the education sector to growth and exports.

"The Government's focus on net migration statistics is at risk of obscuring more important questions about immigration. They should be more focused on how new migrants can be integrated into communities and how the UK can attract the skilled migrants it needs. We also need a broader economic agenda for creating high quality jobs and training for everyone to reduce our reliance on temporary and low-paid migrant labour."

Notes to Editors:

Today's ONS figures are at:

IPPR's 2012/13 Migration Review is available 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:

The BIS International education strategy: global growth and prosperity' is available at: