4 in 5 parents here open to sending kids abroad: Poll

Prospective students and their parents taking a tour of Harvard University. Four in five Singapore parents would consider sending their children abroad for further studies, even though many believe the quality of education is better here than in most
Prospective students and their parents taking a tour of Harvard University. Four in five Singapore parents would consider sending their children abroad for further studies, even though many believe the quality of education is better here than in most other countries. --  PHOTO: BLOOMBERG NEWS

Four in five Singapore parents would consider sending their children abroad for further studies, even though many believe the quality of education is better here than in most other countries.

Being independent, getting international work experience and gaining confidence are the key benefits of studying abroad, the parents felt.

These findings were published in an HSBC survey that polled more than 300 parents living here. It was part of a larger survey by the bank titled The Value Of Education: Springboard For Success, which covered 4,500 parents in 15 countries.

Engineer Chong Shin Kian, 60, put his three daughters through university in Britain.

"They learn to deal with their own affairs independently," he said. "Their outlook on life is broader as they have met people from all over the world."

Eighty-two per cent of Singapore parents wanted their children to have an overseas education - which was higher than the global average of 74 per cent, according to the survey findings.

In terms of the quality of education, three in four of the parents in Singapore felt standards are better here than in most other countries, ranking it third after the United States and Britain.

For the worldwide survey, Singapore was placed sixth, after countries such as Australia and China.

Overall, about one-third of parents thought an education in their own country was better than one elsewhere.

Nine in 10 Singapore parents wanted their children to get a university education, which is similar to the global average. And two-thirds of them wanted their kids to get a postgraduate education as well.

These findings come at a time when the Government is trying to persuade students to look beyond paper qualifications and focus on building up skills instead.

National University of Singapore sociologist Paulin Straughan said a dramatic change in mindset is needed for people to move away from the current norm.

"Many parents observe that without a university degree, it is hard to break through the glass ceiling in careers," she said.

She noted that there might be some who made it without a degree, but for every such example, "there are multitudes of graduates who have moved ahead".

As for the cost of education, among the countries surveyed, Australia is the most expensive option at US$42,093 (S$53,000) a year. Singapore comes next at US$39,229, while the US ranks third at US$36,564. These figures include university fees for foreigners and the cost of living.

kashc@sph.com.sg