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  • Project contributors: McGhee D, Moreh C, Pietka-Nykaza E,

    This Project is part of the following research programme/s:

    Constitutional Change

    Migration and Mobility


    This study focuses on Polish migrants' settlement practices in Scotland and patterns of return migration to Poland, a decade after accession. Taking into consideration the recent debate and proposed administrative changes related to the forthcoming referendum on the constitutional future of Scotland, this study will focus on Scotland and Polish migrants' settlement practices in this region. Polish migrants have been selected for this study as they compose the largest non-UK born population in Scotland (56,000 in 2012). This research will shed light on a number of key policy questions: what drives post-accession Poles to stay in Scotland or return to Poland? How do 'host' institutions respond, adopt and reassure migrants to stay in Scotland? What are the long-term trajectories of Polish migrants in Scotland, those migrants who have returned to Poland, and non-migrating Polish families?

    In the first phase of this research surveys and interviews with Polish migrants will be conducted to examine the impact of political transitions on their migration and settlement practices. By doing so, Polish migrants' political interests and attitudes to Scottish independence will be focused on, as well as their experiences of living in Scotland and their migration/settlement plans. The key factors and drivers that have an impact on Polish migrants' decisions to stay (and settle) or migrate from Scotland will be examined. These themes will be further explored in the third phase of the research.

    The second phase of the study will explore how local opportunity structures in the form of schools, social housing and community organisations respond and adapt (or not) to Polish migrants in local places, with particular interest in the institutional, organisational and service provider agency responses to migrants in particular places.

    The third phase of this study will explore further the themes that emerged in the first phase of this study (e.g. drivers for settling in Scotland/return to Poland, settling practices and re-emigration plans). This phase of the research will involve Polish migrants who were interviewed in the first phase as well as return migrants in Poland.

    Publications & Activities

    From Privileged to Thwarted Stakeholders - Polish Migrants' Perceptions of the Scottish Independence Referendum 2014 and the UK General Election in 2015
    BSA Citizenship Study Group and the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) Standing Group on Citizenship: Political Citizenship and Social Movements (2016). (University of Portsmouth)
    Authors: Pietka-Nykaza E, McGhee D,

    Poles and the Scottish Independence Referendum: denizens' perspectives.
    BSA Conference 2015: Societies in Transition: Progression or Regression? (2015). (Glasgow Caledonian University)
    Authors: McGhee D, Pietka-Nykaza E,

    Independence Referendums: Who should vote and who should be offered citizenship? - Polish migrants in Scotland.
    Eudo-citizenship.eu (2014).
    Authors: McGhee D, Pietka-Nykaza E,

    "I would like to do things": Refugee doctors' and teachers' strategies of re-entering their professions in the UK
    International Migration, Integration, and Social Cohesion (IMISCOE) Annual Conference (2014). (Madrid)
    Authors: Pietka-Nykaza E,

    Polish migrants' engagement in the Scottish Independence Referendum
    Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network (GRAMNet) seminar series (2014). (Glasgow)
    Authors: Pietka-Nykaza E,

    Polish migrants' engagement in the Scottish Independence Referendum
    International Metropolis Conference (2014). (Milan)
    Authors: Pietka-Nykaza E,

    Narratives of refugeeness: Refugee integration into the profession in the UK
    International Metropolis Conference (2014). (Milan)
    Authors: Pietka-Nykaza E,


    Attracting immigrants is an uphill struggle; Scotland needs to embrace multiculturalism if we want to bring in highly skilled new workers The Times. 2020
    Newspaper article in The Times refers to ESRC CPC Policy briefing paper 20: Polish migrants in Scotland: voting behaviours and engagement in the Scottish independence referendum