Parents in the UAE pay the most on average for university globally, according to a new report by HSBC.
The report found that parents in the country spend an average of $18,360 annually for their children’s college education, compared to an international annual average of $7,631.
This is primarily driven by a large proportion of parents in the country – 58 per cent – wanting to send their children abroad – the second highest globally after Indonesia.
The most popular destinations for UAE parents include the US (53 per cent), UK (51 per cent) and Australia (28 per cent), which are among the top four most expensive countries for higher education.
Meanwhile, medicine (26 per cent) is highlighted as the most popular field of study parents would like their children to pursue, the annual cost of which amounts to $26,558 in the UAE, and up to $44,724 in the US.
The report also found that that their children’s education is one of the biggest priorities for parents and that they are least likely to make any sacrifices in this area.
However, the majority – 75 per cent – said investing in education makes it difficult to keep up with other financial commitments.
“These sentiments can be attributed to the constant increase in education costs worldwide,” the report stated.
In the US – the most popular higher education destination globally – average college tuition increased 1,225 per cent between 1978 and 2012.
Karen Bauer, regional director of Education USA, said: “Parents are looking to an education abroad to give their children an advantage because it provides international work opportunities, foreign language skills, and exposure to intercultural experiences – skills that are valued by employers around the world.
“However, parents need to have a long-term plan in place to enroll their children abroad, especially as costs continue to rise.”
HSBC’s research showed that 70 per cent of parents relied on their daily income to meet education targets, with nearly 64 per cent willing to go into debt to finance their child’s studies.
Of those in the UAE looking to send their children abroad, 52 per cent would even consider investing in a property in that country, the report stated.
“However, the choices in terms of fields of study and the level of education parents hope their children will gain, coupled with the cost of education and accommodation, indicates there is a mismatch in aspirations and financial preparedness,” opined Gifford Nakajima, regional head of Wealth Development, Retail Banking and Wealth Management, MENA at HSBC.
“We see today that a great deal of planning is required to meet these goals as there is no denying the fact that higher education can be very expensive.
“Parents can take proactive steps towards planning by looking more actively at investing in savings accounts designed for education instead of getting into debt, while others can look to instill a greater sense of responsibility amongst their children by encouraging them to play a role in financially supporting their own higher education.”