Parents in the UAE are the second highest spenders on a child’s education globally, HSBC revealed on Tuesday.
The average total spend for one child from primary school to undergraduate level is US$99,378 (or Dh364,899), according to HSBC's annual report Value of Education 2017: Higher and higher. Only parents in Hong Kong have a higher outlay, spending an average $132,161 for a child's schooling.
Singapore's parents incur the third highest average total cost at $70,939, according to the report, which surveyed more than 8,400 parents across 15 countries and territories, with total costs calculated by analysing spending on school and university fees, educational books, transport and accommodation.
However, Gifford Nakajima, HSBC’s regional head of wealth development, retail banking and wealth management in the Mena region, said the average figure for the UAE does not reflect the rate parents pay for top-end schools.
“If you are shooting for an Ivy League school in the US and are looking for a programme here that helps your child prepare them for that, then you can expect to pay in the region of $500,000. As a result, a lot of parents are feeling the pressure because of the soaring costs of education,” he said.
Despite the high costs, education is still a vital priority for parents in the Emirates with many willing to cut back elsewhere to ensure they meet the fee bills; while a quarter of those polled chose to cut out holidays, the same number were content to migrate towards a less expensive social circle and 28 per cent chose to change how they work.
The research also found many parents had failed to plan in advance for their child’s education with more than half of parents in the UAE wishing they had started saving earlier.
Alarmingly, 15 per cent of parents funding their offspring’s studies through general borrowing and 68 per cent were financing the cost through their day-to-day income. A third of those polled are using general savings and investments to fund the cost while 17 per cent have a specific education plan in place.
The HSBC study also found that one of the aspects driving the cost of education for UAE parents was their high aspirations for their children’s futures. Nearly all (93 per cent) of those polled are considering a university education for their child, and 90 per cent pondering postgraduate studies. Furthermore more parents are willing to send their child abroad for their studies; but while 65 per cent of those surveyed would consider such a move, a third of those polled have no idea how much such studies would cost.
Of those that would consider a university education abroad, just under half would choose the UK, with the US and Australia the second and third choices respectively.
Dina Kanan, the British Council’s Study UK manager, said when parents plan their child’s higher education they should not just focus on tuition fees. “They tend to forget other costs, particularly for higher education, such as living expenses, travel, insurance, entertainment, day to day expenses and flights.”