The number of sponsored UK visa applications in the year to June 2012 fell by 22 per cent, according to the latest UK immigration figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Visas issued for the purpose of study were down overall by 20 per cent compared with the previous 12 months, with a total of 209,804 visas issued to overseas students in the year to December 2012.
Taking these and other types of visa applications into account, the overall net migration figure for the UK fell by a third in the year to June 2012 when compared with the previous 12-month period. According to the ONS, 163,000 more people came to live in the UK over the 12 months than had left, compared with 247,000 in the year before.
This decline was made up of a drop in immigrants from 589,000 to 515,000, and an increase in emigrants from 342,000 to 352,000.
UK immigration minister Mark Harper commented: “Our tough reforms are having an impact in all the right places - we have tightened the routes where abuse was rife and overall numbers are down as a result.
"We will continue to work hard to bring net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands by the end of this Parliament and to create a selective immigration system that works in our national interest."
The government has pledged to get net migration down to the “tens of thousands” before the next election in 2015. But while the Coalition has welcomed these latest figures as proof that their efforts to reduce immigration are working, there are additional factors to be taken into consideration.
For example, the data also shows that the number of people immigrating to the UK from EU accession countries has fallen from 86,000 to 62,000 – a figure of some concern to businesses that rely on hard workers from countries like Poland.