Singapore parents spend over $21,000 a year on children's higher education: HSBC survey

SINGAPORE - Many parents in Singapore are willing to spend to back up the importance they place on ensuring that their children receive a proper tertiary education, a new report by HSBC has found.

Released on Thursday (June 9), HSBC's Value of Education survey revealed that Singaporean parents place their children's education near the top of their financial pyramid, with more than half of parents surveyed stating that they would be willing to go into debt to fund their children's university education.

Moreover, 55 per cent of parents rated funding their children's education as more important than paying bills and saving for their own retirement, while 38 per cent said that they prioritise it over paying their mortgage.

Mr Matthew Colebrook, head of retail banking and wealth management at HSBC Singapore, said: "What is striking from our report is how much Singaporeans see education as an enabler for their children's future professional success, and that they will prioritise it above all other family expenses and also their own retirement savings."

The study, which surveyed more than 6,200 parents across 15 countries, also found that Singaporeans are willing to spend their hard-earned money to back up the strong emphasis placed on education.

In fact, parents in Singapore spend an average of US$15,623 (S$21,061) per year on their child's university education, more than twice the global average of US$7,631.

Of the 15 countries in the survey, only parents from the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong spend more than Singaporeans at US$18,360 and US$16,182 a year respectively. Parents in Egypt and Indonesia spend the least on average.

HSBC noted that the higher aggregate financial outlay incurred could be a reflection of a greater desire for an international education, and the living away from home expenses that comes with it. The survey found that 43 per cent of Singaporean parents are considering sending their children to an overseas university, higher than the global average of 35 per cent.

However, Singapore parents are also more likely than their global counterparts to use supplementary sources of income to cover their children's university fees. Close to half (49 per cent) of parents surveyed have additional funds from savings, investments or insurance, higher than the global average of 34 per cent.

Ultimately, the main responsibility of funding for a child's university education in Singapore lies with the parents. A total of 95 per cent of parents surveyed say they contribute towards the cost, whereas only 5 per cent of university students actually contribute towards funding their own studies.

Mr Colebrook remarked that while many parents have put away some savings ahead of time, most still rely on their current income to meet the costs of their children's education.

"Having a proper financial plan in advance means that 'all boats can float' when it comes to managing household finances," he concluded.