UK net migration hits highest level in four years

Net migration in the UK has risen to its highest level in four years, driven by a jump in non-EU students coming to study.

In the year to March the balance between the number of people entering and leaving the country was around 313,000, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

This has risen by around 92,000 since March last year and is the highest level since March 2016, when net migration was an estimated 326,000.

Over the past year, around 715,000 people moved to the UK and around 403,000 people left the UK, according to a report published on Thursday.

It said: “The increase in immigration and net migration is being driven by an increase in non-EU nationals arriving in the UK for study reasons.”

Of those coming to the UK, 257,000 were arriving for study, with 458,000 arriving for work, family or other reasons.

Jay Lindop, director of the Centre for International Migration at the ONS, said: “Our best estimate of net migration, using all available data sources, is 313,000 for the year ending March 2020.

“After a period of stability, we were seeing migration levels begin to increase in the past 12 months leading up to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This was being driven by increases in non-EU student arrivals, mainly from China and India.”

The figures, to the end of March, “do not take into account the significant impact the pandemic has had on international migration since then”, he added.

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