Net migration has continued to fall steadily since the 2016 Brexit vote, the government has said. At the same time, the number of non-EU foreign students in the UK has increased significantly.
Immigration to Britain has fallen to its lowest level in six years, according to UK government statistics published on Thursday. The decrease has been largely driven by a fall in the amount of European Union citizens moving to the country to work, the data showed.
British media also reported that the net number of EU citizens arriving in Britain is now lower than it has been since 2003, with the difference in the amount of people arriving and leaving reaching 48,000.
"EU net migration has fallen since 2016, driven by fewer EU arrivals for work," the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
Some 151,000 EU nationals have left the UK since June, a 10-year high.
"In contrast, non-EU net migration has gradually increased for the past six years, largely as more non-EU citizens came to study."
In total, the ONS said that 212,000 more people moved to Britain than left it, the lowest number since March 2013. At the same time, the number of foreign students has been drastically increasing. The number of Chinese applicants to UK universities increased 30% from 2018 to 2019, accordign to the university admissions agency UCAS.
Overall there was a 6% increase in non-EU foreign students coming to Britain to pursue higher education in the past year.
Hot button topic for election
Immigration is a major issue ahead of the UK general election set for December 12. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has argued that Great Britain should adopt a point system similar to the ones used by Australia and Canada, whereas opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has said that migration policy should be crafted to fit the needs of the economy.
The Brexit campaign relied heavily on xenophobic rhetoric, and has caused not only immigrants to leave the country but also many major businesses, who have set up shop in Frankfurt and Dublin instead.
Prime Minister Johnson has promised that if he is elected, he will make sure the UK leaves the EU by the end of January, having already backed out of a vow to have Brexit negotiations completed or leave without a deal by October 31.