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An International Education: Prized but how to afford it?

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An international education has arguably never been more expensive, or highly prized as it is today. Just how to pay for it however, is something that many people consider too late which can often lead to a nasty surprise come tuition time. According to the latest report1 from HSBC: The Value of Education: Springboard for success, Australia is currently the most expensive destination for US undergraduates with a total annual cost of $42,000, closely followed by Singapore ($39,000) and the UK ($37,000).

The report, which surveyed around 4,500 parents in 15 countries including over 400 in the US, suggests that while parents everywhere recognize the value of a good education, many are financially underprepared for it. Some 89% of parents across the 15 countries said that they want their children to go to university, but more than half (51%) wish they had started saving earlier for it. Additionally, nearly three quarters (74%) of parents around the world would consider sending their child abroad for a better university education.

Andrew Ireland, EVP and Head of Premier Banking, HSBC Bank USA, N.A., said: “Among the key reasons to send children overseas are international experience, independence and the chance to learn a foreign language. The prospect of educating children, especially if parents choose overseas education, can seem daunting, but with proper planning and an astute investment plan, most of the financial uncertainties can be eliminated.”

Other findings from the report include:

  • Half of all parents (51%) globally rank the United States in their top three for countries that provide the highest quality of education
  • US is the third most expensive university destination with a total annual cost of around $36,000
  • China, Mexico and India are the least expensive options
  • Over half (58%) of all parents say that paying for a child’s education is ‘best investment you can make’

Note to editors:

(1) The Value of Education is a global consumer research study which explores parents’ attitudes and behaviours towards children’s education. This report, Springboard for success, represents the views of 4592 parents in 15 countries around the world: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Taiwan, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.

The survey was conducted online in December 2013 and January 2014, among parents who have at least one child under the age of 23 currently (or soon to be) in education, and who are solely or partially responsible for making decisions about their child’s education.


Fees per

Cost of
Living per

Cost Total
per year


Quality of

% who rank
country in
top 3 for
Quality of

Australia $24,081 $18,012 $42,093 1 3 25
Singapore $18,937 $20,292 $39,229 2 6= 10
United States $24,914 $11,651 $36,564 3 1 51
United Kingdom $21,365 $13,680 $35,045 4 2 38
Hong Kong $13,444 $18,696 $32,140 5 7 6
Canada $16,746 $13,201 $29,947 6 4 20
France $247 $16,530 $16,777 7 6= 10
Malaysia $2,453 $10,488 $12,941 8 9 3
Indonesia $4,378 $8,527 $12,905 9 11= 1
Brazil $59 $12,569 $12,627 10 11= 1
Taiwan $3,338 $8,573 $11,911 11 10 2
Turkey $1,276 $10,089 $11,365 12 11= 1
China $3,844 $6,886 $10,729 13 5 13
Mexico $750 $8,710 $9,460 14 11= 1
India $581 $5,062 $5,642 15 8 5

This independent research study was commissioned by HSBC and carried out by Ipsos MORI. The Value of Education global report is available on > Retail Banking and Wealth Management. The 15 countries in the league table are those surveyed in HSBC’s April 2014 study The Value of Education: Springboard for success.

The annual university fee for each country is calculated based on the average* annual fee for an undergraduate international student studying at one of the 10 largest** universities in each country.

* Different fees are often charged by universities dependent upon the nature of the course (e.g. medical courses will almost always command higher fees than humanities courses). However the information sources used, including the universities own websites, typically provide an average annual university fee for an international student. Information for each of the 10 universities included in a country’s calculation is therefore based on an average course fee.

** The annual university fees for Mexico and Indonesia are calculated on the fees for the top 10 universities in terms of their QS university ranking ( These rankings are calculated based on a range of metrics including academic reputation, employer reputation and number of faculty to students. This is due to student enrolment information on the largest universities not being available.

Annual fees for each university are either sourced from the university website, by phone via their admissions departments or from other credible websites*.

* In Brazil and France, the fees for each university were not readily available, so a number of sources that provide the range of fees in public universities in Brazil have been used.

All university fees are based on an undergraduate international student attending a public university. Public universities are partly funded by the state/ government, as opposed to private universities which are privately funded. The annual cost of living for international students is calculated based on the average of cost of living in the cities where the universities are located. Annual cost of living data for individual cities are sourced from the Expatistan website ( In most countries, the average cost of living is higher in 2014 than it was in 2013. This is because last year’s calculations were based on the cost of living in the whole of the UK rather than in London. The annual total cost for international undergraduate students is the sum of the average annual university fee and the average annual cost of living.

Quality rankings are derived from HSBC’s 2014 study The Value of Education: Springboard for success which asked more than 4,500 parents in 15 countries about their attitudes towards children’s education. Parents were asked to say which 3 countries offer the highest quality education, from a list of 51 countries (including their home country). The highest quality education covers all levels of education (primary, secondary and university). The quality rankings in the league table identify the sequential rank of these 15 countries from the total of 51 countries.

Who we are:

HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of the HSBC Group, is headquartered in London. The Group serves customers worldwide from over 6,200 offices in 74 countries and territories in Asia, Europe, North and Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa. With assets of US$2,754bn at 30 June 2014, the HSBC Group is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organizations.

HSBC Bank USA, National Association (HSBC Bank USA, N.A.), with total assets of US $179.6bn as of 31 March 2014 (US GAAP), serves 3 million customers through retail banking and wealth management, commercial banking, private banking, asset management, and global banking and markets segments. It operates more than 240 bank branches throughout the United States. There are over 155 in New York State as well as branches in: California; Connecticut; Delaware; Washington, D.C.; Florida; Maryland; New Jersey; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Virginia; and Washington State. HSBC Bank USA, N.A. is the principal subsidiary of HSBC USA Inc., an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of HSBC North America Holdings Inc. HSBC Bank USA, N.A. is a member of the FDIC.

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