Foreign students at universities in Australia are more at risk of dropping out than locals because they have left their families, communities and cultural links behind, says a new report into the problems overseas students face. The report blames the increased risk on differences in language, education styles, foods, weather, customs, immigration regulations and the stress of family expectations to succeed. It says that many foreign students live alone and because of their cultural backgrounds or shyness find it difficult to make friends. They are more likely to become alienated, lonely and even 'targets for unscrupulous predators'. The report was prepared by researchers at Central Queensland University which enrols 10,000 foreign students on its campuses in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and the Queensland Gold Coast. 'International students tend to work odd hours in the most at-risk areas of employment: taxi driving, 24-hour supermarkets and service stations,' the report notes. In one instance, a student driving a taxi was robbed and beaten three times in a six-week period. The university's deputy vice-chancellor, Professor Jim Mienczakowski, said its success in retaining most of its foreign students centred on good orientation programmes, ongoing support and early identification and intervention for those at risk of dropping out. 'Our view is that if the students are good enough to gain admission, then it is worth our while ensuring they stay the distance,' he said.