HK Parents Spend the Most on Child Education; Finance Among Most Preferred Career

The amount parents can expect to spend on educating a child in different countries and territories around the world can vary from US$7,891 for state-funded education in Indonesia to US$211,371 for paid-for education in Hong Kong, according to Higher and Higher, HSBC’s new report in The Value of Education series.

Parents contribute an average of US$44,221 (US$67,502 if paid-for, US$32,647 if state-funded) towards all aspects of their child’s education costs from primary school up to the end of university, including school/university tuition fees, educational books, transport and accommodation.

Of over 8,400 parents in 15 countries and territories surveyed, parents in Hong Kong (US$132,161), followed by the UAE (US$99,378) and Singapore (US$70,939), contribute the most.

The majority of parents (87%) contribute towards the cost of their child’s current stage of education, with 85% also contributing towards their university or college education.

Apart from student loans, only 15% of students in tertiary education contribute towards funding their own education, while 16% benefit from government/state support (via a scholarship, sponsorship, bursary or grant) and 8% from similar school or university support.

“In today’s highly competitive global job market, education for young people has never been more important,” says Charlie Nunn, HSBC’s Group Head of Wealth Management.

“Parents across the world appreciate this and are willing to invest time and money to help their children get the best start in life. Their unwavering support shows in the personal, lifestyle and financial sacrifices they are making. From forfeiting ‘me time’ to giving up hobbies or reducing leisure activities, parents are going the extra mile to help their child succeed.”

Path to success

When thinking about the courses they would like their child to study at university, parents show their ambition. Medicine (13%), business, management and finance (11%), and engineering (10%) are the most preferred.

In addition, more than nine out of 10 (91%) parents are considering postgraduate education for their child, and 76% of these expect to contribute to the cost.

Almost eight in 10 (78%) parents think completing a postgraduate degree is important for their child to get full-time employment in their chosen occupation.

The importance of a postgraduate degree to their future job prospects is even more widely recognized among parents in China (91%), Indonesia (91%) and Mexico (90%).

Parents in Asia are most likely to be optimistic about their children fulfilling their potential. While 75% of parents worldwide are confident their child will have a bright future, they are 87% in India and 84% in China to say so. In contrast, parents in France are more cautious, with only 42% being confident of a bright future for their child.

Similarly, 85% of parents in India and 78% in China feel confident their child will get a great job, compared to global average of 68%. In France, only 36% of parents feel confident their child will get a great job.

“The distinctive, knowledge-based economies of several Asian countries create huge demand for high quality, highly employable graduates,” comments  Professor Colin B. Grant, Vice President (International), University of Southampton.

“This also includes places with relatively small populations such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, where high fliers are focused on developing international skills and experiences to give them a real competitive advantage.

“Parents play a crucial role in shaping their children’s success through their high expectations, but also by making dreams a reality through their willingness to financially support their child’s education up to postgraduate level.

“The drive to achieve success also shines through in the clear preference towards STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and business/finance university courses – subjects where demand for highly skilled experts, and their value in the employment market, is set to continue to rise in the coming years.”

Planning ahead

While parents are willing to support their children to help them get ahead in their careers, many are not planning ahead by saving to meet the significant costs associated with their child’s continuing education.

Typically, tuition fees for a two-year postgraduate degree in engineering can be US$26,400 in UAE, US$21,000 in the USA and US$19,700 in Australia.

Nearly three-quarters of parents (74%) are using their day-to-day income to help fund their child’s education, while nearly a quarter (22%) admit they don’t know how much is contributed each year.

Many parents are making or have made financial sacrifices including reducing their spend on leisure activities (40%), working longer hours in their existing job (21%), contributing less to their own long-term savings or investments (20%) and taking on a job/second job (18%) to help fund their child’s education. Additionally, 82% of parents are ready to make personal sacrifices for their child to succeed.

Parents in China are the most financially prepared, with over half (55%) funding their child’s education through general savings, investments or insurance, and over two-fifths (43%) through a specific education savings plan.

In contrast, less than one in 10 parents in the UK (5%), Australia (8%) and Mexico (8%) are funding their child’s education through a specific education plan.

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