Singapore students in Britain gain from pound's fall

The Singdollar hovered at around 1.98 to the British pound yesterday, close to Monday's two-year low. The prospect of Britain's exit from the EU has sparked concern in financial markets and the wider business community, causing the pound plunge. Anal
The Singdollar hovered at around 1.98 to the British pound yesterday, close to Monday's two-year low. The prospect of Britain's exit from the EU has sparked concern in financial markets and the wider business community, causing the pound plunge. Analysts say the currency may fall further and is expected to be volatile until a referendum in Britain on June 23.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Singapore parents funding the education of their children in Britain are among those benefiting from a recent plunge in sterling against the Singdollar.

The Singdollar hovered at around 1.98 to the pound yesterday, close to Monday's two-year low.

Management consultant Jimson Cheng, who is paying for his 20-year-old daughter's three-year degree at the London School of Economics, said: "I'm taking advantage of the drop to secure a sufficient pile of British pounds for maybe one or two semesters."

The 56-year-old said he has consulted his private banker on how best to benefit from the drop in the currency. He has also invested in property in London and said he will be able to save on mortgage payments.

Giving an example of how Singapore students in Britain could benefit, Mr Shabir Aslam, director of education at the British Council, said a student who commenced a law degree in Nottingham University this year would be due to pay more than $31,000 in course fees. If the exchange rate remains the same, the student could save over $2,000.

Others have also rushed to ensure they do not lose out.

Mr Mohamed Rafeeq, secretary of the Money Changers Association, said he had seen a 20 per cent rise in the number of people selling their pounds for Singapore dollars at his shop in Raffles City. "I asked my customer, she said she read that the pound will fall further, so she didn't want to keep it," he said.

The fall follows British Prime Minister David Cameron's announcement of a referendum, to be held on June 23, on whether Britain should remain in the European Union.

The prospect of Britain's exit from the EU, dubbed "Brexit", has raised fears in financial markets and the wider business community, sparking the fall.

Mr Heng Koon How, a foreign exchange strategist at Credit Suisse, said most Singaporeans will be waiting for a good opportunity to buy pounds for upcoming travel or school fees. However, he said the pound may fall further and is expected to be very volatile until the referendum.

Travel agencies said a fall in the pound's value means more people will travel to Britain to visit friends and relatives studying or living there, a trend they have seen previously.

Dynasty Travel's director of marketing communications, Ms Alicia Seah, said: "What we will see in the next three to six months will be more people travelling to Britain and, in general, Europe."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore students in Britain gain from pound's fall'. Print Edition | Subscribe