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UK immigration policy failing Scotland, says Scottish minister

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Scottish ministers have urged the UK government to reinstate work visas for foreign students after data showed that nearly half of all migrants to Scotland have been educated to degree level or higher.

Analysis of the 2011 census shows that 49% of the 369,000 immigrants who settled in Scotland held a degree – nearly twice the proportion of the population as a whole. Among migrants from within Europe, the proportion was 60%.

A third of migrants arrived in Scotland to study, and those who settled were equally as likely to be employed or economically active as the average citizen, figures from Scotland’s chief statistician show.

Humza Yousaf, the Scottish government’s minister for Europe and international development, said the figures quashed the myth that migrants were an economic burden – a view held by a majority of Scots, according to a recent poll.

He said the figures underlined the case for overseas students to be given back the right to apply for post-study work visas, abolished by the UK government, to help Scotland’s economy and skills base to grow.

“Immigration policy is currently too heavily influenced by the priorities of the south-east of England, based on the values of the current UK government and driven by a desire to reduce the numbers of incoming migrants which does not recognise Scotland’s needs and does not serve our economic or societal interests,” Yousaf said.

A BBC Scotland/YouGov poll this month found that 49% of Scots wanted less immigration – the same figure as in the UK as a whole – and 15% said it should be stopped altogether. It found 38% felt immigration was bad for the country.

While 27% of Scots said immigration was good for the country, compared with 22% of all Britons, only 5% of Scots said it should be increased and 26% saying it should remain at the current level.

The Scottish National party is pushing a pro-immigration strategy, in large part to boost the economy.

The census data also showed 51% of settled migrants arrived in the UK as a child, and 68% of recent migrants – chiefly from eastern Europe, were adults. Of all migrants, 89% could speak, read and write English, and 42% spoke only English at home. A large majority (81%) lived in urban areas.

Source : The Guardian

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