More than one in ten overseas students believes they have been misled by claims made in university prospectuses, the Higher Education Policy Institute report found. This has rung "alarm bells" about the sector's ability to attract students from lucrative overseas markets.
Some 13 per cent of overseas students say they were misled, compared with 9 per cent of UK students. The report warns that by failing to meet foreign students' expectations, universities are in danger of "killing the golden goose".
Drummond Bone, Universities UK president, said: "International students, quite understandably, have high expectations - and we must ensure that we understand and are able to respond to these."
The survey of more than 15,000 students also found that while 16 per cent of UK students believed that their course represented poor value for money, the figure rocketed to 28 per cent among non-European Union overseas students, who pay tuition fees equivalent to the full costs of courses.
Some 9 per cent of the overseas students said they had received "very poor" value for money, compared with 3 per cent of all respondents. Non-EU and overseas students made up about 10 per cent of the 15,000 students who responded to the survey.
Bahram Bekhradnia, director of Hepi, said: "There are lessons here that universities need to take very seriously."
Respondents were generally satisfied with their experience at university. Some 11 per cent reported that their experiences had been worse than expected, while 40 per cent said their experience had been "worse in some ways".