A survey of international students at Australian universities has found the vast majority were happy with their experiences.

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The 2010 International Student Barometer found 86 per cent of the approximately 36,000 international students surveyed were satisfied with their Australian university experience.

Some 84 per cent reported a high overall rate of satisfaction overall with their studies, and 86 per cent expressed high satisfaction with life in Australia.

The survey, released by Universities Australia on Monday, found three-quarters of respondents would recommend studying and living in Australia to others – but not the food.

Seventy-four per cent of international students said catering was disappointing, with meals either unhealthy or too expensive.

Despite disturbing attacks on international students in recent years, almost all of those surveyed said they generally felt safe on campus, but only 70 per cent felt safe on public transport.

Low levels of satisfaction were reported consistently in relation to work opportunities, employability and career advice.

“Australian universities need to recognise that students facing repayment of fees regard the entry to productive work as a core graduate attribute,” the report stated.

Universities Australia chief executive Glenn Withers said while many of the survey’s findings were positive, more could be done to improve international students’ experiences.

“There is no room for complacency and still room for ongoing improvement,” he said.

“For example, the report identifies mismatches between students’ expectations of living in Australia and their actual experiences.”