The views of secondary school children emerged in a study commissioned by the Scottish Government, which sought their opinion on one of the biggest political issues in the UK.
The Young People’s Attitudes to Immigration report is based on research carried out by pollsters Ipsos Mori, who spoke to more than 1,700 secondary pupils in state schools across Scotland.
It found that 30 per cent of pupils in S1 to S6 – covering an age range of 11 to 18 – believe that immigration should be “decreased” or “stopped completely”.
More than a third (35 per cent) felt that immigration should be kept at the current level, meaning that a total of 65 per cent of teenagers think it should stay the same or fall. Only 15 per cent of those surveyed said they thought immigration should be increased, while the remaining 20 per cent said they did not know or would rather not answer.
The Scottish Government has repeatedly warned that the UK’s commitment to cutting net migration poses a major risk to economic prosperity north of the border.
There is general political agreement in Scotland that levels of immigration should be maintained rather than cut for the economy to grow, with working age migrants needed to fill jobs.
The SNP’s Growth Commission also called for migrants to be offered tax breaks if Scotland votes for independence, allowing the country to grow its population and support the economy.
The survey of young people also showed that older pupils were more likely to feel positive about the impact of immigration in Scotland than those in other year groups.
Almost 30 per cent of those in S6, who are generally aged 16 or older and can vote in Scottish Parliament elections, felt that the impact of immigration had been “mostly good”.
However, this dropped significantly among younger pupils, with only 12 to 14 per cent of those in S1, S2 and S3 agreeing. Girls also perceived the impact of immigration less negatively than boys.
Much like among adults, attitudes to immigration varied depending on people’s economic background, with wealthier students more positive than those from more deprived areas.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “It is important that we engage with young people and seek their views on issues which affect them and their future, including immigration.”