Immigrants better qualified than workers born in UK – Study

Immigrants in the UK are better qualified than those born in the country, a new international study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has revealed.

The latest edition of OECD’s annual Education at a Glance shows that 34% of immigrants in the UK have a tertiary qualification. The proportion of immigrants who have a tertiary degree is 4.9 percentage points greater than the proportion of non-immigrants who do.

Immigrants with tertiary qualifications are also well paid in the UK. They are in fact better paid than immigrants in most other OECD countries.

The report further shows that the UK has always been one of the most attractive destinations for foreign students. The country holds almost 10% of the global education market share, the 2nd largest after the United States (18%) and, after Australia, the 2nd largest in relative terms for enrolment of international students too.

Almost 364,000 students from around the world are enrolled in UK tertiary programmes, a significant increase in absolute terms, since 2000 – even if it represents a decline in the market share, as the rise in other countries has been faster.

The main countries of origin of foreign students in the UK are China (47,000 students, or 13% of all foreign students) and India (34,000 students, or 9.3% of all foreign students). Overall, 49% (179, 000) of foreign students come from Asia and 32% from Europe.

In 2009, 24.8% of foreign students in the UK converted their status from student to employed worker and decided to remain in the country.

OECD’s report shows that the UK labour market and taxpayers are reaping the benefits of these additional highly educated workers without having incurred the cost of their basic education.

The report also shows that adults who have not attained an upper secondary qualification, equivalent to five good GCSEs or an equivalent vocational qualification, have been hardest hit by the recession. Between 2008 and 2009, their employment rate fell from 65.6% to 56.9% – a drop four times greater than the OECD average, signalling significant vulnerability for individuals with less education.