Much has been made of illegal immigration over the past few months, with countless migrant boats, mostly full of men, making their away across the English Channel. Yet in reality, this is just a small part of the enormous mass movement of people who end up in Britain every year. Recently, the Office of National Statistics released its immigration stats for the year ending March 2020, and they reveal what is really driving immigration into the country.

For the year ending March 2020, 715,000 people moved to the UK, with net migration standing at 313,000. The ONS noted that the increase in arrivals is being driven by non-EU people arriving to study, with 257,000 out of the total 715,000 stating that as their reason for coming to the UK. Indeed, the report also notes that ‘formal study’ is now the most popular reason for people coming; with work, family reunification and asylum claims following swiftly behind.

Incredibly, 40% of the 257,000 people who came to study were from China, the country where the Coronavirus originated, and the country which recently implemented a draconian national security law in Hong Kong. Britain, like many Western countries, is diverting huge resources to train future generations of its geopolitical rival.

Universities in recent decades have expanded largely because of the growing market of foreign students. Data published by the Complete University Guide shows that all Universities rely on foreign students to some degree, with them typically making up between 5-25% of all students on campus. Such policies are highly profitable, but also open Britain up to widespread student visa fraud.

For example, in 2014 alone, the Home Office admitted that 48,000 immigrants had wrongly obtained English Language certificates, with gangs making money by falsifying test results for student visa applicants. It’s hard to believe with the Conservative’s track record, that most of them were deported, which begs the question where all those people are now.

A classic example of the strange logic inhabiting Britain’s higher education sector is the cap on British medical, dentistry, veterinary science and teaching students, which for the first time in decades was lifted this year because of the Coronavirus. In a nation that is constantly in need of more doctors and teachers, it seems unexplainable that such a cap exists on British-born students, whilst foreign students are allowed to fill up places instead.

With immigration still continuing at record levels, the nature of immigration is changing. As EU immigration steadily falls, non-EU immigration in the form of student visas is ratcheting up the numbers. So those who seek to reduce immigration overall, and by doing so ensuring that British students have a path to University, need to pay more attention to this sector.

In the year ending March 2020, 51% of all non-EU immigration, and just under 30% of EU immigration, was the result of people coming to study in the UK. In a system where fraud has been proven to occur, and where many illegally overstay their visa time, there is clearly a lot of sorting out to be done. Until foreign student numbers come down, immigration will not fall substantially in Britain at all.

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