Students Staff

03 February 2011

Survey to provide first information on recent UK immigrants

Colchester Campus

Polish and Pakistani immigrants in London and Birmingham are being asked to take part in a groundbreaking survey of new migrants across Europe. The survey, Being in Britain, is led by academic experts Essex and the Institute of Education. It is set to become the single and most important source of information on the views and lives of Polish and Pakistani newcomers to the UK.

The researchers concerned, and eventually others around the UK and the world will use the survey results to better understand how immigrants first get jobs, how they feel about Britain and their home societies, and their intentions and plans for the future. Together with researchers in Germany, the Netherlands, and Ireland, the results from the survey will be used to evaluate the effect of immigration and integration policy on the lives of newcomers in each country.

Explaining the background to the survey, Professor Lucinda Platt, who is leading the UK end of the project, said there was currently little systematic information on newcomers to the UK: 'New immigrants tend to move frequently, and their numbers are but a small proportion of the entire population. This makes new immigrants difficult to capture in traditional telephone or national level surveys.'

Her co-researcher Dr Renee Luthra added: 'Immigration is a contentious issue in UK politics today, and it’s crucial that academics, citizens and immigrants alike can get good information on the employment and job characteristics, living situations, and social contact experienced by immigrants in their first years of arrival.'

Poles and Pakistanis form two substantial groups of newcomers to the UK, but may come for different reasons. It is not known whether on arrival their experiences and impressions of life here are similar or different.

The survey aims to hear from up to 1800 Poles and Pakistanis. In order to find such large numbers, survey interviewers will use the social networks of immigrants themselves to find new survey participants. This allows the study to reach a broad range of immigrants representing many walks of life. In addition, these participants will be interviewed again one and a half years later, allowing the research team to see how their views and lives change with time in the UK.

The survey has just got underway and interviewers have been meeting with Polish and Pakistani immigrants in neighbourhoods throughout London and Birmingham. Survey participants report that the interviews have caused them to reflect on their experience, stating that 'these are questions I talk about with my friends.' Researchers will begin analyzing the data in late Spring and early Summer, and the results will be compiled into reports for publicising to the general community.

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