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Populist policies harm UK’s reputation

The UK’s one-size-fits-all approach to immigration is already hurting, but some of the risks are long term, says Valérie Hartwich

UK immigration policies have tightened over the last three years. New Labour’s points-based system introduced selective immigration in 2008. In 2010, the coalition’s immigration cap sought to reduce non-EU immigration to tens of thousands. The measures prompted wide concern, but the potential for damage is particularly serious in academia.

Both policies addressed voter concerns about increased pressure on public services and competition for jobs that immigrants allegedly caused. Unable to influence emigration or EU migration, the restrictions targeted skilled and highly skilled non-EU individuals and foreign students, and shut down the non-skilled migrant route. A recent Migration Observatory survey shows public concern about low-skilled migrants, most of whom come from the EU. But respondents also believe the migrants most affected by the policies were crucial to our recession economy.

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