“Astonishing” figures released yesterday suggest the government is not doing enough to meet their net migration commitments, according to Migration Watch spokesperson Neil Anderson.
Net migration to the UK from non-EU countries is at its highest level since 2004, according to figures released yesterday by the Office of National Statistics.
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Mr Anderson told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer this morning that the figures were “astonishing” and questioned the government’s commitment to reducing net migration to below 100,000.
“What we have seen is across all visa categories - work, study, family - visa grants have gone up considerably, and we’ve also seen in conjunction with that a reduction in the number of removals of people who are here illegally.
“The picture is not looking good for a government that is supposedly committed to reducing net migration to 100,000.”
Mr Anderson denied suggestions that the high figures are a result of the inclusion of international students, many of whom return to their home countries after finishing their education.
He said: “The government’s independent Migration Advisory Committee said it is administratively and statistically ridiculous to consider removing students from the figures.
“As much as most of these students are going home, there are around 20,000 students a year who are transferring from their student visa into other visa groups, so the picture is a bit more mixed than the universities and higher education lobby might have us think.”
Mr Anderson said that new government policy had actually made it easier for international students to study in the UK, and he expected to see a rise in student numbers next year.
He also questioned whether people were right to welcome high-skilled migrants to the UK.
“Obviously every individual that comes here is putting additional pressure on schools, public services, the health service, transport infrastructure, and ultimately this country cannot absorb numbers on this sort of scale,” he said.
Words: Cormac Connelly-Smith