Britain is the second largest destination in the world for international students, after the US.
They contribute £3 billion to the British economy and are a key source of revenue for UK higher education. Yet in the media foreign students seem to appear only as suspected terrorists (in the wake of the arrest of the former UCL student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab) or as cash cows for British universities, and most recently as possible illegal immigrants.
What does it feel like to be seen as cash cow, possible illegal immigrant or possible terrorist? Are the British as hospitable as we like to think, and exactly how world class is British higher education? Why do foreign students come to study in Britain and how does the dream measure up against the reality?
This programme also explores another story: how the presence of foreign students reveals the tensions and contradictions within a UK 'national' education system now operating in a globalised world driven by market forces. If Britain thinks of foreign students as a problem, they will go elsewhere (Sweden now offers degrees in English with no fees at all for foreign students) and UK higher education will become the Bates Motel of the global education world, somewhere off the main road.
Presenter: Philip Dodd
Producer: Simon Hollis
A Brook Lapping production for BBC Radio 4.