Student Insight Hot Topics: The Rise in Global Student Safety Concerns found that a perception that the UK was a multicultural society made students feel it would be safe.
Safety has become an increasingly important factor for international students since 2008, although it is still less important than other considerations such as university reputation, employment prospects and the quality of education, according to the report, which bases its conclusions on an online survey.
More than a quarter of respondents said the UK was the safest place to live, ranking it above Canada, which was placed second, the United States, Germany and New Zealand.
Asked why they thought the UK was the safest place to live, nearly four in ten students thought the most important factor was the UK's multicultural society.
"I know London is safe because my relatives live there," said one Indian student interviewed as part of a focus group in the country.
Another said: "You are living in a country of many nationalities, so no one is going to attack you [because] of your nationality."
A perceived lack of guns and good medical care were also seen as important reasons for the UK's reputation for safety.
Multiculturalism was also seen as important to those who believed the US the safest place to study. For those that thought Canada was safest, a majority cited a low crime rate as the reason.
The most dangerous country was perceived to be Israel, largely because international students feared terrorist attacks.
South Africa was seen as the second least-safe study destination because of perceived high levels of street crime.