Citizenship and Integration in the UK

Aims and objectives

The overall aim of this project was to increase the capacity of the UK to develop, implement, monitor and evaluate policies and measures for the integration of third country nationals through the provision of a substantial body of new data and analysis.

The project had the following objectives:

  • to examine the experience of recent arrivals who have taken the ‘Life in the UK test’ or an alternative route of studying English with a citizenship context; and
  • to review the academic and policy literature that provides evidence on integration processes and the outcomes of initiatives to promote integration; and
  • to develop through a process of research and dialogue on the development of further indicators to assess progress of integration policies and inform government debates on future measures.


In 2008, 156,015 applications for British citizenship were made, with 129,375 applications granted (Home Office, 2009). Despite these numbers, we recognised the need for comprehensive evidence on the experiences of those recent arrivals to the UK who have applied to become British citizens either through the ‘Life in the UK’ test route or through the ESOL with Citizenship course route.

Successful interventions to promote integration require an understanding of the processes of integration and an evaluation of the effectiveness of measures which have been taken to promote integration at the national and local level.

Integration processes, as the Common Basic Principles for Immigrant Integration Policy recognise, proceed at different levels (in relation to the labour market, social and civic engagement, identity and belonging for instance) and a range of factors have been shown to facilitate or impede those processes, including policy intervention.


The project had three components:

  1. Survey of applicants for citizenship, including both a large-scale quantitative survey, and more focused qualitative interviews. And two further small-scale samples: 1. a sample of those who have not applied to become British citizens, identified by ‘snowballing’ from contacts made through various community groups and organizations.  2. A sample of policymakers/officials, examining the nature of their involvement in the policy development process at national, devolved and local level and their assessment of the context for the impetus for the citizenship ‘initiative’-across different policy domains.
  2. Literature review Authoritative evaluations of past measures to promote integration are frequently not available and the review would provide an assessment of the validity of any evaluations conducted.
  3. Development of indicators of integration enabling policy makers to monitor progress over time, in different contexts, helping to inform the development and implementation of policy interventions. This aspect of the project considered quantitative indicators in order to measure the different dimensions of integration from economic participation through education, housing and health outcomes, to active citizenship and belonging and trans-national behaviour, including attitudes and behavior of the host population towards third country nationals. It also considered the availability of data at national and local level and whether new data would be needed were those indexes to be used.


     Research Team

    • Professor Michael Keith, COMPAS Director
    • Sarah Spencer, COMPAS Deputy Director
    • Dr Ben Gidley, COMPAS Senior Researcher 
    • Dr Dina Kiwan, Academic Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Citizenship at Birkbeck College, University of London
    • Dr Alessio Cangiano, COMPAS Research Officer

    Funders and Timeline

    European Integration Fund

    Spring 2010 to 2011.