BOURNEMOUTH has seen its non-British born population rise by more than 100 per cent in a decade.

Fifteen per cent of the town’s population – 27,414 people – were born outside the UK.

The figure, drawn from the 2011 census, means the town has the highest percentage of non-UK born residents in the south west.

And 10 per cent of the borough’s residents hold only a non-UK passport.

Figures from the Migration Observatory at Oxford University show the number of non-UK born people in Bournemouth rose 108.5 per cent between 2001 and 2011.

Bournemouth councillor Lawrence Williams, cabinet member for tourism, leisure and culture, said a large proportion of migrants would likely be students.

“Bournemouth is a very cosmopolitan town and has always been a popular destination for foreign students,” he said.

“I believe we have the most language school students of any place outside London.

“It brings diversity to the town, as well as money.”

Cllr Williams said like British people living on the continent, Europeans had equal access to services in this country.

“We have recently established a sister arrangement with Zibo in China,” he added.

“They are hoping people from Bournemouth will go there.

“This mixing of cultures makes Bournemouth the vibrant place it is today.”

Meanwhile, the non-UK born population of Purbeck grew at the lowest rate in England and Wales – up by an estimated eight people, or 0.3 per cent.

Dr Carlos Vargas-Silva, senior researcher leading the census project, said: “Many of the larger towns, like Bournemouth, have seen sizable increases in their migrant populations, both numerically and as a share of the population. But many other parts of the region have seen more modest changes.

“Indeed, Purbeck is the only place in England and Wales where the proportion of migrants in the population actually declined during this period.”

He said the migrant population of the south west grew by more than 155,000 – 62 per cent – in 10 years, but was still one of the smallest in England and Wales.

The report’s findings show: Across the south west, about eight per cent of residents – 404,660 – were born outside the UK. This was up 62 per cent since 2001.

Bristol had the highest number of non-UK born residents, but Bournemouth had the highest population share – 15 per cent.

Between 2001 and 2011, the non-UK born population grew the most in Bristol (up 31,815), but the biggest percentage increase was in Bournemouth – up 108.5 per cent.

Residents born in Poland are the most numerous non-UK born group in the south west, followed by residents of Germany, India, Ireland and the US.