Foreign students are big business: one country says its visitors 'are happy', another invests to get more The vast majority of international students studying in the UK are 'very happy' with their stay in the country, according to a survey published this week. The study, by the Council for International Education, Universities UK, the British Council and the Standing Conference of Principals, resulted from questioning 4,796 students at 181 universities, higher and further education institutions in 150 countries in April and May this year. The survey, Broadening Our Horizons, shows the UK in a favourable light compared with Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It found 91 per cent of undergraduates and 85 per cent of postgraduates were satisfied or very satisfied with their courses. In addition, 70 per cent of respondents had used their institution's advice and 80 per cent had attended an induction or orientation session service, compared with 44 per cent in Canada and 58 per cent in Australia. Eighty nine per cent said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their stay in the UK, citing their academic experience, improvements in their English, and the chance to become more independent and meet people from all over the world. The report said that many institutions had improved areas of non-academic support since the last survey 10 years ago, with more international students now being offered accommodation. Advice was now also more readily available. Three-quarters of higher education students were offered institution-managed housing at the beginning of their stay. Although most universities and colleges gave help and advice when problems arose with finance, accommodation and other day-to-day problems, the report said there were many areas in need of improvement, including the attitude of banks, problems with access to employment and difficulties with visa extensions. Universities UK president Ivor Crewe said: 'I am delighted to see such high levels of satisfaction among international students, rightly attracted by our reputation for quality, intensive degree programmes, professional support services for students, and high completion rates. 'Despite the fierce competition, these findings show why the UK is the country of choice for those considering study abroad. 'We believe this survey shows that, in the higher education Olympics, we are gold medallists when it comes to the student experience, and second only to the mighty United States in terms of numbers.' Dame Alexandra Burslem, chair of the UK Council for Overseas Students' Affairs board of trustees, and vice-chancellor of the Manchester Metropolitan University said: 'International students form a vital part of UK higher education, broadening our horizons and enriching our system. 'This survey demonstrates that the UK welcomes international students and provides them with a high quality experience ... we must ensure we continue to provide them with this high quality experience academically, culturally and socially.' David Green, director general of the British Council, said: 'With increasing competition from other countries, maintaining UK education's global reputation for quality will become ever more dependant on the experience of students while they are here.'