Children’s education is top priority for parents in UAE, study shows
DUBAI // Education is the highest priority for parents who are prepared to cut household expenses and luxuries to pay for their children’s tuition fees.
Family holidays, rent, mortgage and credit card repayments are all more likely to be slashed by parents before they scrimp on their child’s education, HSBC’s The Value of Education 2016: Foundations of the Future report found.
The study surveyed 6,241 people across 15 countries, including more than 400 in the Emirates. It also found that parents in the UAE paid on average US$18,360 (Dh67,439) each year for their child’s higher education compared with the worldwide figure of $7,631.
“A higher education that is international in scope has become a requirement for those seeking top careers in today’s competitive, increasingly global job market,” said Karen Bauer, regional director, Education USA, a US state department network of international student advice centres.
“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.”
Of the parents questioned in the UAE, 22 per cent said education was the least likely item to be cut, followed by holidays at 14 per cent and rent, mortgage and credit card repayments at three per cent each.
The report found that the US was the most popular destination to send their children, with 53 per cent, followed by the UK and Australia.
Overall, 58 per cent of parents here wanted to send their children overseas for higher education.
Medicine was the most popular field of study at 23 per cent, followed by engineering at 22 per cent with finance and computer science at seven per cent and science at five per cent.
Studying medicine in the US cost almost twice as much as in the UAE at $44,724 and $26,558 each year respectively.
The total cost of studying in the US can vary drastically based on the institution with the very top universities charging about $60,000 per year.
The 2015-2016 annual undergraduate tuition fees for study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are $46,704 and $38,660 for postgraduate courses.
At Harvard University, undergraduate fees were $45,278 and $41,832 for the first two years and $10,876 for years three and four of a postgraduate course.
The University of Cambridge in the UK offered an undergraduate degree in computer science for international non-EU students for $35,310 in 2016-2017 and a postgraduate qualification in the same subject for $41,544.
“We advise parents planning to send their kids to university in the US to look at a number of options, not just the Ivy League,” said Ms Bauer.
“There are a number of more affordable community colleges in the US and we work with parents to find affordable options.”
About 82 per cent of UAE parents with children at university and 72 per cent with youngsters at primary school said education costs made it difficult to meet other financial obligations.
HSBC’s research showed that nearly two thirds of parents would be willing to go into debt to pay for education.
Gifford Nakajima, HSBC’s regional head of wealth development, retail banking and wealth management in the Mena region, said: “Parents naturally want the best for their children and hope a strong education will put them in the best position to lead a prosperous life.
“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.”
Updated: August 31, 2016 04:00 AM