Thursday, July 31, 2014
BRUSSELS — Driven in part by societal norms that emphasise diversity, equality and social responsibility, policymakers in the United Kingdom for decades have been committed to fighting discrimination whilst promoting social mobility and cohesion for the country's large ethnic minority population, many of whom trace their origins to former British colonies. At the same time, even as immigration has been a hot-button topic for publics and policymakers, there has been little discussion and policy development around immigrant integration and even less targeting specific immigrant groups in the United Kingdom.
A new Migration Policy Institute Europe report, Advancing outcomes for all minorities: Experiences of mainstreaming immigrant integration policy in the United Kingdom, examines the accelerating trend toward a 'mainstreaming' of integration in the United Kingdom, in which policymakers seek to reach people with a migration background through needs-based social programming and policies that also target the general population. The report, by Ben Gidley and Sundas Ali at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford, focuses on the policies aimed at immigrant youth, particularly in education and social cohesion.
In the United Kingdom, ethnicity and race have been the main focus in many policy areas of British multicultural society rather than migrant status or background. In addition to an increasingly decentralised approach in education and social cohesion policies in particular, this has fuelled a locally based mainstreaming approach that subsumes integration within broader concerns about race relations and equality.
'While the United Kingdom's commitment to mainstreaming at the local level has been productive from a social cohesion perspective, these policies can obscure the real disadvantages and challenges facing particular migrant groups within the country', said MPI Europe Director Elizabeth Collett. 'This is particularly clear in the experiences of immigrant youth, whose educational performance varies considerably across different populations'.
Although UK policymakers tend not to target immigrant youth as a group requiring specific integration support, governmental and civil-society actors in the report's two diverse case-study cities, London and Glasgow, have made promising efforts to advance inclusion and improve educational outcomes for young people with a migration background. These efforts might serve as a model for other cities in the United Kingdom and across Europe looking to balance mainstreaming with effective targeting on a local scale.
This report, supported by a research grant from the Dutch Ministry for Social Affairs and Employment, is the second in a comparative research project conducted in collaboration with COMPAS and Erasmus University in Rotterdam. It will be followed by the release of in-depth studies of Denmark, France and Germany over the coming weeks.