Only one in three international students studying in New Zealand rates their education as good value for money, according to a report to the Ministry of Education.
The findings were published as international students at Waikato and Otago universities took to the streets to protest about increases of as much as 23 per cent in the fees they will pay next year.
Chinese students were the least satisfied with their experiences in New Zealand, while students from Europe, the Americas and Australia had a more positive view.
Three-quarters of the latter group would recommend New Zealand to prospective students, compared with a third of Chinese students.
The report points to a 2002 study of university students in 40 countries that found Chinese were the only ones to report feeling more negative than positive about their learning experience.
Less than half of the students questioned believed New Zealanders had positive attitudes towards international students, and one in three believed international students were often discriminated against in New Zealand.
Increased contact with New Zealanders led to positive academic, social and psychological outcomes, the report says. Universities noted that their students rated their experiences more highly than secondary and private language and tertiary students.
Otago University's international office director, Roberto Rabel, said the fee protests showed international students were taking part in university life.