Figures published by the Office for National Statistics today look to have ended the Conservatives’ hopes of meeting their pledge to reduce net migration to the “tens of thousands” by 2015.
The rise in net migration may also raise fears among universities that the government may take an even tougher stance on overseas students, as it seeks to reverse the rise in the figures.
“Net long-term migration to the UK was estimated to be 243,000 in the year ending March 2014, a statistically significant increase from 175,000 in the previous 12 months,” says the ONS.
It adds: “Immigration for study remained stable (177,000) in the year ending March 2014.”
The ONS also publishes a separate set of figures for visa applications by non-EU students.
“The number of sponsored student visa applications was virtually unchanged from the previous year and stood at 206,726 in the year ending June 2014 (compared with 206,870 in the previous 12 months),” the ONS says.
“However, there was a 5 per cent increase for the university sector (UK-based Higher Education Institutions) and falls of 25 per cent, 4 per cent and 5 per cent respectively for the further education sector (tertiary, further education or other colleges), English language schools and independent schools in total for the year compared to the previous year.
“As a consequence, the share of visa applications for the university sector rose from 77 per cent to 81 per cent over the same period, while the shares for the Further Education sector fell from 13 per cent to 10 per cent.”