Scotland attracts most highly skilled immigrants in UK

Scotland is attracting more highly qualified immigrants than anywhere in the UK, population research has shown. The study, done by the BBC and the Institute for Public Policy Research, showed 3.3% of people in Scotland were born abroad.

Sarah Kyambi, from the Institute for Public Policy Research, co-authored the report.

She told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "Scotland is attracting more immigrants. One of the interesting changes is that Scotland now has the highest proportion of new immigrants with a degree. Scotland must be very successful in attracting people into its universities and very successful in attracting highly skilled immigrants. What you see is new immigrants coming from places like China, South Africa, Australia, and a lot of these groups are very well qualified."

BBC Scotland home affairs correspondent Reevel Alderson said: "The figure has gone up from 2.4% of the population to 3.3%, so very small numbers of people in Scotland have been born outside the UK, about half the national average.

"But people are obviously coming here and obviously staying and that might feed into First Minister Jack McConnell's debate. He is trying to ensure that those come into Scotland will be allowed to stay here longer."

But he said the figure for Easterhouse was likely to have altered: "It's probably changed since the 2001 census because of the asylum dispersal programme, which started a couple of months after the census was taken."

Scottish Socialist Party MSP Rosie Kane said the figures "bust some of the myths that exist around immigration".

"We need skilled workers like nurses, primary school teachers, plumbers and carpenters - yet we refuse to let asylum seekers work, we lock families up in Dungavel and make it near impossible for anyone to come here," she said.

"We have to tackle the racism that mars the experience of immigrants to Scotland - starting with the government's racist immigration laws."