Singapore parents pump $96k into kids’ education, rank 3rd globally in survey


They rank 3rd globally in such spending in HSBC survey; majority make funding decisions early

Singapore parents spend an average of US$70,939 (about S$96,000) on their children’s education, from primary school all the way to undergraduate level. The global average is about two-thirds of that at US$44,221.

But parents in long-time rival Hong Kong spend far more than their counterparts here – shelling out a hefty US$132,161 on average.

And of the 15 nations and territories surveyed, including the United States and Britain, Singapore came in eighth globally in terms of where parents want to send their children for tertiary education.

The findings were released in Higher And Higher, the latest report in HSBC’s Value of Education series, which looks at parents’ ambitions for their children, their views on the costs and benefits of education, and the sacrifices they are prepared to make to ensure that their children’s potential can be fulfilled. Local education costs include school/university tuition fees as well as costs of educational texts, transport and accommodation.

Globally, parents here were ranked third in spending after those in Hong Kong (US$132,161) and the United Arab Emirates (US$99,378). In Singapore, 500 parents were polled. Among South-east Asian countries, Malaysia ranked eighth globally with US$25,479, while Indonesia was 13th with US$18,422.


The report shows parents here are going the extra mile to ensure their children have a good start in life. About four in five (79 per cent) started making plans for their children’s education and 74 per cent started making funding decisions even before the children had started primary school.

Millennial parents (80 per cent) and Generation X parents (82 per cent) were more likely than baby boomer parents (69 per cent) to have started making plans before primary school. Almost four in five parents (79 per cent) were paying for their children’s education, and a similar proportion (82 per cent) were paying for private tuition or had done so in the past.


There appears to be a growing preference for overseas education, according to the HSBC research report. This could be linked to millennials’ extra investment – both financial and personal – in their children’s education.

The survey indicates millennial parents (54 per cent) were more likely to consider university abroad than Gen X (43 per cent) or baby boomer (36 per cent) parents.

Mr Anurag Mathur, who heads retail banking and wealth management at HSBC Bank (Singapore), said: “Singapore millennial parents are investing both their time and money to help their children get the best start in life and, for many, that means an overseas education.”

On a global basis, Singapore came in eighth among the most likely destinations for parents who are considering university abroad for their children. The Republic is especially popular with those in neighbouring countries.


Despite such forward-looking education plans, the millennial parents surveyed did not seem to have a funding plan for their ambitions.

Despite starting with financial planning early in the child’s life, half of the millennials surveyed said they wished they had set aside more money for their children’s education, compared with 38 per cent of Gen X parents.

Taken across the generational profiles, 67 per cent of parents here were funding their children’s education through day-to-day income, while 49 per cent were using general savings, investments or insurance. Only 20 per cent were making use of a specific education savings or investment plan.

Mr Mathur noted that, even though parents recognise that educating a child can be expensive, it is still easy to underestimate the full costs involved, especially over the long term.

“To limit the strain that funding a child’s education can have on family finances, it’s important to plan and save ahead. Seeking professional advice can help parents make more informed choices and develop a longer-term financial plan,” he said.


Australia remains the overseas education destination of choice for Singapore parents. Seventy-one per cent of parents here would consider sending their children to a university Down Under, followed by Britain (63 per cent) and the US (57 per cent).

On a global basis, Singapore came in eighth among the most likely destinations for parents who are considering university abroad for their children.

The Republic is especially popular with those in neighbouring countries. Indonesian parents (31 per cent) and Malaysian parents (21 per cent) were keen to send their children to Singapore to attend university.

Meanwhile, in India, 10 per cent of parents were open to sending their children here to continue their education.

These figures underline Singapore’s strong reputation as the regional education hub.

For the 2018 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings, Nanyang Technological University was placed 11th while the National University of Singapore took 15th spot. Singapore is the only country in Asia to have its tertiary education institutions included in the top 20 tier.