Singapore parents underestimate cost of an overseas university education: HSBC

SINGAPORE - The majority of parents in Singapore are thinking of sending their children abroad for university but are underestimating what this costs, according to a report by HSBC released on Wednesday (Sept 9).

The cost of studying in a foreign university is about 83 per cent higher than for a local degree but Singapore parents are only budgeting for 48 per cent more on average, HSBC found.

The bank surveyed 336 parents in Singapore who have at least one child aged 23 or younger currently, or soon to be, in school for its Learning for life report.

More than 5,550 parents across 16 countries responded to the survey, whch also found that Singapore universities provide the highest employment prospects for its alumni compared to other Asian countries.

The employability of Singapore university graduates, in fact, ranks third globally in the HSBC survey.

But Singapore parents, it seems, would still prefer to send their children abroad for university if possible. HSBC found that 81 per cent - higher than the global average of 77 per cent - of Singaporean parents are considering sending their child abroad to study.

Despite the mismatch in cost expectations, Singaporean parents are planning early for their children's university education. Only nine per cent of Singaporean parents (compared to the global average of 22 per cent) have not started saving towards their children's tertiary education.

Said Mr Matthew Colebrook, head of retail banking and wealth management at HSBC Singapore: "There is a major gap between parents' funding expectations and reality when it comes to overseas education and many parents in Singapore might not have considered the additional living expenses and airfare for their children. Parents are planning but it is clear that they have underplayed the goal and risk falling short.

"Parents looking to send their children overseas must consider the additional cost compared to a local degree, save early and take into account the number of years that the child may need to be living and studying overseas. Encouraging independence will also help manage costs given the length of their stay abroad may extend beyond undergraduate studies to postgraduate."