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Immigration to county up 66 per cent in decade
OXFORD’S foreign-born population has risen by 67 per cent in the last decade, new census data has revealed.
Information just published from the 2011 census shows the foreign-born element of Oxford’s 151,900 population soared from 25,940 in 2001 to 43,239 in 2011, a rise of 66.7 per cent.
Senior researcher Carlos Vargas-Silva, from the Migration Observatory at Oxford University, said Oxford’s figures were unique, not because of the rise in foreign-born population, but because of the composition of the population.
He said: “The increase has been about 67 per cent, which is not so different from the rest of the south east, but it’s the composition of the population in Oxford which is unique.
“There are three reasons for people to migrate – for work, to study or for family reasons, and the unique thing about Oxford is we have all three migration flows.”
Across the south-east, the city had the third highest number of non-UK born and non-UK passport-holding residents.
He said Oxford received a large flow of migrants looking for work, especially from eastern Europe, and large influxes from non-EU countries of people coming to study in the city.
He said the city also has well-established communities of foreign-born immigrants.
The rise has been celebrated by cultural organisations across the city, which said the fact that foreign-born immigrants now made up 28 per cent of the city’s population improved its diversity.
Asian Cultural Centre treasurer Zaheer Qureshi said: “The Asian community is getting bigger and bigger, and it makes Oxford a better place for everyone to live.
“These people are working here and they are part of society. They add to the diversity of the city. You can see it if you walk down the Cowley Road. You see how many different restaurants have opened up and people are meeting each other and eating together and that’s all part of it.”
Labour councillor Mohammed Abbasi, the current Sheriff of Oxford who is in line to become Lord Mayor next year, came to Britain from Pakistan 50 years ago.
He said Oxford was a welcoming city, and one chosen by migrants heading to the UK because of its universities and rich heritage. Mr Abbasi, 71, said: “It’s an incredibly vibrant city and also a very inspiring city. People want to come here. They make Oxford their first choice.
“I think Oxford University is one of the big attractions. People come here to study, but also when people think of England they think of London and they think of Oxford University.
“I think people in Oxford are very hospitable. They want to welcome people here. They are not narrow-minded.”
The rise in the city follows a county-wide trend, with an overall increase in foreign-born residents in Oxfordshire of 56 per cent – from 59,267 in 2001 to 92,495 in 2011.
The biggest rise in Oxfordshire was in Cherwell, where the foreign-born population rose from 9,296 in 2001 to 16,095 in 2011, a rise of more than 73 per cent.
In West Oxfordshire, the rise was more than 50 per cent - from 5,631 to 8,486 and in the Vale of White Horse, 36.4 per cent – from 9,018 to 12,304.
South Oxfordshire had the smallest increase, up 31.8 per cent from 9,382 to 12,371.
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