Net migration to UK falls by a quarter

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Net migration to the UK went down by a quarter over the last year, official figures released yesterday showed.

The number totalled 183,000 in the year to March this year, compared with a figure of 242,000 for the year to March 2011, according to data from the Office of National Statistics.

The period saw 536,000 people come to the UK, whereas 578,000 immigrated here the previous year. Meanwhile, the number of people leaving the country increased, with 353,000 people emigrating over the same period compared with 336,000 the previous year.

It is the biggest decrease in net migration since 2008 and was driven by significant reductions in the number of people coming to a study and work in the UK.

Prime Minister David Cameron responded to the numbers by tweeting: “Today’s figures show we are reducing net migration.

“Effective immigration helps us compete in the global race.”

The provisional figures came after the coalition introduced measures to fulfil its pledge to cut net migration by tens of thousands by 2015. They showed that over the last year fewer people immigrated to the UK than at any time since 2004, when 528,000 came into the country to live.

It was largely driven by an eight per cent drop in the number of people coming here to study. In a controversial move, the Government has made it more difficult to study in the UK amid fears that bogus colleges were being used as cover for migrants who had no intention of taking a proper course.

Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: “This shows we are bringing immigration back under control.”