EU and non-EU migration levels are now closer than they have ever been, explains The Migration Observatory, with a record high of 131,000 EU migrants coming to the UK in the year Q3 last year.
In all, 532,000 people immigrated to the UK and 320,000 emigrated from the UK, meaning an overall net migration figure of 212,000, which is a “statistically significant increase” on the previous year’s 154,000.
This does not help the international education sector, since EU migration is not capped under freedom of movement rules, putting further pressure on the non-EU student channel perhaps (or adding weight to excluding students from the net migration count).
The motive for UK-bound migration is also changing, with a decrease recorded in those coming here for study (176,000) and a rise in those arriving to work (218,000).
In particular there was a hike in Polish, Spanish and Italian arrivals requesting NI numbers (required to work).
FE has been hardest hit in the last year, ONS data reveals
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) data also reveals, in separate analysis to year-ending December 2013, that it is the FE sector in particular that is seeing an erosion in enrolments.
To Dec 13, there was a 7% increase for study visas granted for the university sector and falls of 34%, 2% and 2% respectively for the FE sector, English language schools (offset by a visa in student visitor visas) and independent schools.
As a consequence, the share of visa applications for the university sector rose from 75% to 80% over the same period, explained the ONS, whilst the shares for the FE sector fell from 15% to 10%.
The ONS also includes some limited detail about study visas issued by nationality: Pakistan and India posted declines of 55% and 21% respectively, year on year, likely because students there seek opportunity elsewhere which enables part-time work or post-study work.
As a result of Brazil’s generous Science without Borders scheme, the number of study visas issued to Brazilians was up by 147%, year on year.