UAE par­ents pileup debt to send kids to top univer­sity

Spend­ing is 140 per cent above global av­er­age

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Sar­wat Nasir @Sar­watNasir

Par­ents in the UAE are rack­ing up thou­sands of dirhams on their credit cards to cover higher ed­u­ca­tion costs as they eye the best uni­ver­si­ties for their chil­dren.

Re­search shows that mums and dads ea­ger to give their kids the best are spend­ing 140 per cent more than the global av­er­age on univer­sity costs – and that’s just tu­ition fees.

The sur­vey, by HSBC, shows that par­ents in the UAE are the biggest spenders glob­ally on higher ed­u­ca­tion, pay­ing an av­er­age of $18,360 an­nu­ally com­pared with an in­ter­na­tional av­er­age of $7,631.

As a re­sult, more par­ents are get­ting into huge debt to cover ed­u­ca­tion costs, ac­cord­ing to Ku­nal Malani, HSBC Bank Mid­dle East Re­gional Man­ager.

The study, ti­tled The Value of Ed­u­ca­tion: Foun­da­tions for the Fu­ture, sur­veyed 6,241 peo­ple across 15 coun­tries and ter­ri­to­ries, in­clud­ing more than 400 in the UAE.

Two thirds of UAE re­spon­dents said they would be will­ing to go into debt to cover costs of higher ed­u­ca­tion for their chil­dren.

Malani said: “We’re cer­tainly see­ing cus­tomers will­ing to per­son­ally bor­row money to fund their chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion. It’s very com­mon.

“We know cus­tomers are bor­row­ing on their credit cards to pay school fees.”

One of the rea­sons be­hind the high level of spend­ing is be­cause 58 per cent of re­spon­dents said they would con­sider send­ing their child to a univer­sity abroad – with the US be­ing their top choice.

Univer­sity prices in the US are higher than the UAE, with the cost of study­ing medicine – a top pick among par­ents in the sur­vey – in the UAE to­talling $26,558 com­pared with $44,724 in the US. Karen Bauer, Re­gional Di­rec­tor of Ed­u­ca­tion USA, said: “A higher ed­u­ca­tion that is in­ter­na­tional in scope has be­come a re­quire­ment for those seek­ing top ca­reers. Par­ents are look­ing to an ed­u­ca­tion abroad to give their chil­dren an ad­van­tage be­cause it pro­vides in­ter­na­tional work op­por­tu­ni­ties.” She added that par­ents and stu­dents should look at op­tions such as com­mu­nity col­leges and other non ivy-league schools if they want to study in the US, that still of­fer qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion, as an al­ter­na­tive op­tion.

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