Ionad Nàiseanta na h-Imrich logo and link to websiteService providers, policy makers and academics will gather at the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on 1 and 2 September 2005 to consider social and public policy issues relating to migrants in urban and rural Scotland. As the Scottish government has committed itself to attracting more migrants, partly to address a projected population decline, the conference with the theme 'International migration and Scotland: the social and public policy agendas' is timely. Speakers include leading figures from national organisations, such as the Scottish Refugee Council and the National Resource Centre for Ethnic Minority Health, as well as senior academics from Universities across Scotland, and even from Ireland.

EU enlargement has already had a significant impact on the numbers of migrants coming to Scotland in general, and to the Highlands and Islands in particular. Over the past four to five years, national insurance number registrations by overseas nationals residing in Scotland have gone up by about 3.5 times (and by over 2.5 times for those residing in the Highlands and Islands). Most of those migrants have come from the EU Accession States, in particular Poland. While these new arrivals offer clear economic, social and cultural benefits to Scotland, they also pose challenges.

Dr Birgit Jentsch, Senior Researcher at Ionad Nàiseanta na h-Imrich (National Centre for Migration Studies) (INI) comments:

"Some of the issues which minority ethnic groups face who have been in Scotland for many years - discrimination and less than ideal services and provisions- will in numerous cases also be encountered by the new arrivals. A range of activities and initiatives have now been set up by committed individuals in the public services, the private and non-governmental sectors to make migrants feel welcome. However, these individuals themselves often feel that their endeavours could benefit from more co-ordination and support. We hope that the conference can contribute to shaping the way forward, as well as clarifying corresponding responsibilities."

The conference is hosted by Ionad Nàiseanta na h-Imrich, a research centre which was established in 2002, and which is supported by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig as well as the University of Aberdeen. There could hardly be any more appropriate location for the centre than Skye, an island whose history in the past was characterised by emigration, but which has received large numbers of internal and international migrants in recent years.

For more information and to see presentations from the conference, go to the International Migration and Scotland Conference website.