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Is your education worth the money?

Meld Magazine

Thu Sep 18 2014


IF you’re studying in Australia, you’re probably paying about 16 per cent more than your fellow international students in America. Marina Solomon shares some interesting research findings on the value of education as well as parents’ attitudes and behaviours towards children’s education globally.


Is your education worth the money? And is Australia your first choice of study destination?

We thought we’d pose this question to our international student readers after a Value of Education report published by HSBC made the headlines not just in Australia but also overseas. The research conducted in December 2013/January 2014 surveyed more than 4,500 parents in 15 different countries and territories, examining their attitudes and behaviours towards children’s education globally.

Want to read the report? Download the Value of Education report by HSBC.

The most significant finding was that Australia turned out to be the most expensive education destination, above the US and UK.

The total cost of studying in Australia, including annual fees and cost of living, was determined to be approximately USD 42,000 a year (close to $47,000 in Australian dollars). This is more than 16 per cent higher compared to what international students in the US would be forking out annually, which is around USD 36,000.

However, the cost of sending children to Australia to study was found to be disproportionately higher than parents’ perceived quality of the education offered. Only 25 per cent of the surveyed parents ranked Australia within the top three nations for education quality. On the other hand, 51 per cent and 38 per cent of parents considered the USA and UK, respectively, to be in the top three.

Despite this finding, enrolment figures from Australian Education International show China remains to be the largest contributor to the international student population in Australia, with more than 76,000 enrolments in 2013. In comparison, Malaysia and India contributed only 13,500 and 11,500 enrolments in the same year.

It was also found that Asian parents were more likely to rank Australia in their top three destinations for overseas study. The HSBC report revealed that a large percentage of parents in Hong Kong, Singapore and India regard Australia favourably (56 per cent, 50 per cent and 47 per cent, respectively).

In response to these research findings, Graham Heunis, Head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management for HSBC in Australia, believed Australia’s high quality of life and its proximity to Asian countries has “enabled it to historically punch above its weight in attracting international students”.

“However, it’s imperative that Australia continues to demonstrate educational value to ensure that the in-flow of international students continues,” Mr Heunis said.

“China’s growing middle class means that it will continue to represent a significant part of the international student market, globally. Attracting Chinese student intake will be a key factor in maintaining education’s role as a key export sector for Australia.”

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Another plausible explanation why Australia remains a popular destination for international students, despite the associated high costs and lower rankings, is because parents care more about the overall student experience.

Regardless of the study destination, surveyed parents mentioned some benefits they think are worth paying for: the accumulation of language skills, greater exposure to other cultures, and the development of independence.

Other findings from the report revealed parents’ desire for their children to undertake further study. A whopping 91 per cent of Malaysian parents surveyed said they wanted their children to study at a postgraduate level, and 74 per cent of Chinese parents wanted the same.

What do you think about the quality of education you have received in Australia? What has been your most valuable overseas student experience?  Tell us in the comments section below.