The Politics behind Immigration Law in the UK: Student Migration

December 23, 2016



The main purpose of this research is to develop an in-depth knowledge and understanding of student immigration and related laws in the UK. This research aims to identify the relevant immigration legislation and practice in UK as well as setting out the politics behind these.  The research aims to evaluate previous and current immigration law in the UK, to assess changes in immigration and determine its effect on migration to the UK. A further purpose of the study is related to defining student migration in the UK in order to assist students who wish to come to the UK to study.


Immigration remains one of the hottest topics in contemporary British society. Numerous polls suggest that majority of people in Britain have a negative view of immigrants (Ipsos Mori, 2012, British Social Attitudes Report 2012, YouGov 2011). The current coalition government remains committed to sharply reducing immigration from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands (Hansard, 2010). However this is not a new phenomenon and negative attitudes towards immigration have existed ever since the Aliens Act 1905. The motivation behind the setting up of the Royal Commission on Alien Immigration in 1902, and the subsequent Aliens Act was wide-spread public attitudes towards recent Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe.

The common themes in anti- immigrants discourses, echoed throughout different eras were overcrowded housing, crime and disease, the taking up of welfare benefits; taking jobs away from British people, or forcing wages down (Spencer 1997). This was despite the fact that the Royal Commission’s findings actually dispelled popular views about immigration.  Although the Commission found that Jewish immigration was not a threat to jobs, and that working conditions did not create poverty and crime (Card et al, 2012), it still recommended immigration controls. It seemed that the outcome of the Royal Commission was pre-determined even before the hearings (Bashford, Gilchrist 2012) because public anti-immigration sentiment was so high. Similarities can be seen in contemporary times. Although a considerable amount of research suggests that public perceptions about immigration are misguided (for example Saggar, Shamit and Drean (2001), Wadsworth (2007), Coats (2008)), this perception still dictates immigration policies.

Following the Aliens Act 1905, immigration policy became increasingly tougher.  During the First World War, the Alien Restrictions Act, 1914 was introduced. It gave emergency powers to the Secretary of State including wide powers and abilities to grant entry, deport individuals, and pass regulations in the interests of national security (Greenslade, 2005). This was followed by the Alien Restrictions (Amendment) Act, 1919 which set the pattern for future legal structure of immigration control (Greenslade 2005). The significance of the Act was that wartime measures also became the standard for peace time. Read more....



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