You encounter people everyday. These people are all different; be that in height, weight, eye colour, hair colour, and so on. They may have different goals in life than you do, they may have different experiences to you and they may even be from a different nationality than you do. This is the truth of the UK today, everyone is different. The United Kingdom is one of the largest multicultural countries in the world, with its ethnic population accounting for 7.7 million of the country’s total population of 56.1 million people.
It is recorded by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), that 13% of the British population is now made up of migrants. Since 1945, immigration in the United Kingdom has increased, in particular, from the Republic of Ireland, but also from previous colonies of the British Empire such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa, Hong Kong and the Caribbean.
In December 2012, the most common non-UK country of birth for UK residents was India, hitting the chart at 729,000 Indian-born people, and, the most common non-British nationality in the UK was Polish, with 700,000 Polish nationals. The diagram below shows the bursts of non-UK born residents in different regions, along with the top five countries of birth per region.
Source: The Guardian (2011)
The chart shows that there are 538,000 foreign nationals living in the West Midlands alone. The top five countries of birth of migrants living in the West Midlands are: Pakistan, India, Poland, Ireland and Jamaica, respectively.
This, then, proves that the people we encounter daily can also speak differently to us, they may be proficient in English, learning English as an additional language, or may not know English at all.
A secondary school teacher in Birmingham found that, in one school alone, data showed that 98% of students had English as an additional language.
History teacher in Birmingham, Jo Fairclough, said: “This included students who had only recently arrived to the UK and spoke little or no English.
“Communication is more difficult in these situations.”
Recent data by the National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum (NALDIC) found that the number of pupils who have, or are learning, English as an Additional Language (EAL) has increased by half a million in the last 15 years.
Jo added: “However there are EAL support teachers which help.
“The role of an EAL support teacher is to prepare relevant resources on a student’s home language.”
The government has been backing project in English as an Additional Language since, as early as, 1966, and there are around 246 support teachers employed to meet the needs of EAL pupils in the West Midlands.
The National Association for Langauge Development in the Curriculum (NALDIC) have reported that: In 1966, Section 11 of the Local Government Act made funds available ‘to help meet the special needs of a significant number of people of commonwealth origin with language or customs which differ from the rest of the community.’ This included funding to support the education of EAL and bilingual learners.
In 1999, the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant (EMAG) was distributed to local authorities on a formula basis. The formula related to the number of EAL learners and the number of pupils from ‘underachieving’ minority ethnic groups in local authorities.
The purpose of this grant was to enable strategic managers in schools to narrow achievement gaps and ensure equality of outcomes, and, also to meet the costs of some of the additional support in place for the specific needs of bilingual learners and ‘under-achieving’ pupils. Each local authority was required to devolve the bulk of this funding to schools, and spending of this grant was restricted to the purposes outlined.
Despite significant opposition, the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant (EMAG) was mainstreamed into the Direct Schools Grant (DSG) in 2011, and schools were allowed complete freedom over how they chose to use it.
In 2013, the revised schools funding reform mentioned that an ‘EAL factor’ can be included in local funding formulae for schools. However, this factor would be limited to bilingual pupils who have been enrolled to English schools for a maximum of 3 years. Local schools authorities could also decide: whether to include an EAL factor in their formula; whether this factor will ‘count’ bilingual pupils who have been enrolled in a school in England for one, two or three years and the cash value of this factor for primary aged pupils and for secondary aged pupils. There is also no accountability mechanism in place to observe how schools make use of this funding.
You only have to walk through the grounds of a university to find out just how multicultural education in the UK has become. Be it, in the canteen, the library, the students’ union, or just the person sitting next to you in a lecture on Computer Engineering, universities are laced with international students from all over the world.
Mijan Rahman, a student from Bangladesh speaks on his experience in studying in the UK, and how he felt compelled to work two jobs to pay his university fees, following with enrolling onto an additional course to extend his study visa.
Originally coming to the UK to study Business Management at Aston University, Mijan said: “I had come here on a student visa 9 years ago, once my degree finished I started another course; so I would be able to extend my student visa. I had provided evidence that I was still studying.”
Previously working at McDonalds alone, Mijan added: “I did not want to take out a loan as I knew it would be difficult to pay off.
“My visa got extended as I started another course, but my financial problems increased as I was finding it more difficult to pay my university fees. So I got a second job at Morrison’s to help me survive.”
Reflecting on his experience as a student, Mijan said: “I wasn’t enjoying my experience as much; I didn’t get to live the ‘free’ student life that others were living. Although I couldn’t complain much as my life here was better than in Bangladesh.”
Now 29-years-old, Mijan has been able to obtain a British passport after marrying his girlfriend, who is a British national. He has found a job, and together with his wife, lives in London with their three month old baby boy.
A 2012 International Passenger Survey (IPS) conducted by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) found that the majority (64%) of EU nationals migrating to the UK did so to work, whilst, the majority (59%) of non-EU nationals were migrating to the UK to study. Figures obtained for all nationalities, showed that work and study were the top two reasons people gave when migrating.
A combined example of work and study can be taken from Hamdan Khan. Originally from Saudi Arabia, Hamdan moved to the UK in 2007. He completed his A levels and graduated from studying a degree in Photography and Video at Birmingham City University in 2013.
“The reason for me to move to the United Kingdom was because the education system in Saudi Arabia wasn’t as good.”
Moving to the UK with his mother and younger sister, Hamdan said: “I didn’t have any difficulties in speaking English because in Saudi Arabia we studied in an English medium school.”
By completing his A levels in the UK, the university in which he enrolled to, classified him as a national student, and therefore, he was charged the national fee for studying his course in the UK.
However, not wanting to take out a student loan in the fear that he will not be able to pay it back, Hamdan relied on financial support from his fathers’ business and also started to work part time at a newsagent to cover the cost for studying in the UK. Having been interested in photography and video, Hamdan also started a freelance business of his own.
After financial support from his fathers’ business became low due to losses, Hamdan said: “I had to work full time as a photographer and my mother worked in the newsagent, also full time.
“We struggled but we still paid for our university, and our daily needs.” He added.
Data reported by gov.uk, found that there has been a decline in the number of study visas issued by the government, for the third year running.
In 2012, the amount of international students who successfully received a study visa had fallen 21% (211,000) since 2011 and a further 5% (-9,750) in the year ending June 2013 (204,469).
These trends indicate study-related visas issued, admissions and long-term immigration have all continued to fall, though less quickly then previously.
The 9,750 (-5%) was more then account for by falls in student visas issued to Pakistani and Indian nationals whilst there were increases from other nationalities. These included a 3% increase for Chinese nationals and Libyan nationals who were up nearly three-fold (+277%).
Despite the slow decline in study visas issues, there was a 5% increase in student visitor visas issued in the year ending June 2013. Visitor visas allow students to stay in the UK for 6 months (11 months for English Language Schools) and cannot extend their visas.
Are foreign nationals who migrate to the UK in search of a better life, then, ‘taking our’ jobs? In November 2013, The Telegraph reported that a government-backed study found one in fifth jobs in key industries are being filled by migrants, for the sole reason that there is an apparent lack of skilled British individuals searching for employment.
The report also gives statistics from the Office for National Statistics which shows that the number of foreign nationals finding jobs in the UK had increased by 225,000 to 4.26 million in a year, as opposed to a rise of just 192,000 British-born workers.
In addition, temporary work restrictions for Romanian and Bulgarian migrants have been lifted as of 1st January 2014. This could pose an increase in people immigrating from Romania and Bulgaria in the search for work.