More than three quarters of parents think their child will need at least an undergraduate degree to fulfil important goals in their life, according to new research from HSBC. And half think that their child will need a postgraduate qualification.

The independent study commissioned by HSBC surveyed 5,550 parents in 16 countries and territories around the world.

Parents in emerging economies are most likely to think university qualifications are essential, The Value of Education Learning for life report shows. More than nine out of 10 in Mexico, Indonesia, Malaysia, the UAE, India, China and Turkey see an undergraduate degree as essential. Nearly nine out of 10 in India and four out of five in the UAE say that their child will need a master’s degree or higher.

Many parents recognise that it is more challenging than ever for younger generations to compete in the job market

Charlie Nunn, Group Head of Wealth Management, HSBC, said: “An increasingly competitive job market and better access to higher education has made it more difficult for graduates worldwide to stand out from their peers. In many places there is a clear view that an undergraduate degree alone will not be enough.”

Parents in developed economies place less emphasis on postgraduate qualifications, however. Those in Australia, the UK, France and Canada are more likely to say that vocational training is the highest level of qualification their child will need.

While opinions differ on what level of qualification is desirable, parents everywhere are ready to go to great lengths to secure a good education for their children. Some start while their children are still very young: nearly two in five parents worldwide have paid for extra tuition to give their child a boost at primary school. More than three in four have paid or would be prepared to pay for extra tuition at some point during a child’s education. 

The majority of parents continue to support their children financially throughout higher education. Ninety-five per cent make or plan to make some contribution towards tuition fees and/or living expenses. 

While many parents hope to pay for university by drawing on savings and investments, this can be challenging. More than a quarter take out loans, or expect to do so. Parents in China, Australia, Malaysia, the US and the UK who have taken or expect to take on debt to support their children think they will need more than eight years to pay it off.

Learning to become financially responsible is also seen by parents as an important part of the university experience, however, and many students make a personal contribution towards costs. Around half of parents who expect their child to contribute to their own university costs think they will take on paid work alongside study, the report shows. A similar proportion of parents expect their children will need to take out loans.

Mr Nunn said: “Many parents recognise that it is more challenging than ever for younger generations to compete in the job market – and they are willing to help children get a good education and achieve their aspirations. The high costs make it important to start planning and saving early.”

The Value of Education Learning for life is an independent research study by Ipsos MORI for HSBC. It represents the views of 5,550 parents in 16 countries and territories: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the US. The findings are based on a nationally representative survey of parents in each country with at least one child aged 23 or younger who is currently, or will soon be, in education. Ipsos MORI conducted the online survey in March and April 2015.

Related content

Great expectations

15 July 2015

Being a parent is a joy, a privilege and a huge…