More than 90 per cent of people interviewed were satisfied with the education or training they received.
Moreover, many learners now have a more positive attitude to learning than when they left school - almost nine in 10 who left school with a negative attitude said they were now more confident in their ability to learn and have a greater enthusiasm for their subject.
The survey was commissioned by the Learning and Skills Council and carried out by the NOP. It will eventually lead to more than 110,000 people being interviewed over five years, in what the LSC describes as the most comprehensive survey of its kind ever undertaken in this country.
The chief reason for satisfaction was the quality of the teaching, with staff being praised for the knowledge of their subject, and their ability to relate to the learner as a person. But a small number said that some lessons were unproductive. This was because they were left waiting around, staff shortages led to cancellations, and there was student disruption.
As for facilities, the highest ratings went to information technology and libraries, and the lowest to canteens and areas for socialising.
Bryan Sanderson, chairman of the LSC, said: "Learners are our customers and, like any good business, we must listen to their views in order to improve performance across the post-16 education and training sector, both within colleges and in the workplace.
"By using this research and acting upon learners' perceptions we will be able to implement changes to help us achieve the levels of world-class education and training to which we are committed."
Dave Gibson, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said the results showed that colleges "really are delivering the goods".
"College leaders, lecturers and support staff across the country are helping people to achieve their aspirations. Learners, employers, the Government and the community at large can be confident that the monies invested in the sector are delivering high-quality learning."
LSC's customer care, 39