European immigrants to the UK pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits, according to fresh research.

However, the University College London (UCL) study revealed immigrants from outside the EU took more from the public purse than they put back in over a 17-year-period.

European immigrants (those from all EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) made a positive fiscal contribution of £4.4 billion to the UK between 1995 and 2011, whereas immigrants from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) made a negative fiscal contribution of £118 billion.

In the same period, UK-born workers made a negative contribution of £591 billion.

Looking more closely at recent arrivals, between 2001 and 2011, the picture improved for both EEA and non-EEA immigrants, with European arrivals making a positive fiscal contribution of £20 billion and those from outside Europe making a positive net payment of £5 billion.

Professor Christian Dustmann, director of UCL's Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (Cream) and co-author of the study, said: ''A key concern in the public debate on migration is whether immigrants contribute their fair share to the tax and welfare systems.

''Our new analysis draws a positive picture of the overall fiscal contribution made by recent immigrant cohorts, particularly of immigrants arriving from the EU.''

He added: ''European immigrants, particularly, both from the new accession countries and the rest of the European Union, make the most substantial contributions.

''This is mainly down to their higher average labour market participation compared with natives and their lower receipt of welfare benefits.''

Positive net fiscal contribution of immigrants arriving since 2000 from the so-called A10 countries - Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia - was about £5 billion. Recent European immigrants from the rest of the EEA contributed £15 billion.

Immigrants who arrived since 2000 were 43% less likely than UK born workers to receive state benefits or tax credits, according to the study, and also 7% less likely to live in social housing.

The research also found the value of the education of immigrants in the UK labour market who arrived since 2000 and that has been paid for in the immigrants' origin countries amounts to £6.8 billion over the period between 2000 and 2011.

Mr Dustmann added: ''When we additionally consider that immigrants bring their own educational qualifications whose costs are borne by other countries and that they contribute to financing fixed public services such as defence, these contributions are even larger.''

David Hanson, Labour's Shadow Immigration Minister, said: ''This report shows that immigration since 2001 has contributed to the public finances as well as to the economy.

''However the impact of different kinds of immigration varies and the system needs to be fair - so we need stronger border controls to tackle illegal immigration and stronger action against employers who use immigration to undercut local wages and jobs, but we should welcome international university students who bring in billions.''