UK, US now distant dreams (Poll Inside)

Too steep for studies: People walking along Westminster Bridge in London, England – a favourite education destination for Malaysian students. — AFP

PETALING JAYA: The United Kingdom and United States, long the favourite destinations for students who want to study abroad, are becoming distant dreams for many now.

The decline of the ringgit has put a damper on the hopes of parents and students who wanted to study there.

Many are now opting for other parts of Europe, Australia, New Zealand or even local universities instead, say education service experts.

A representative from St Marion Study Abroad said that with the British pound reaching RM5.91 – it was RM5 in 2019 - students have shifted their inquiries to public universities in Germany, Sweden and France.

“In Germany, international students’ fees in public universities can cost between €200 to €2000 (about RM1,000 to RM10,000) per semester. One semester is six months in Germany.

“A degree in a private university in the United Kingdom, on the other hand, can cost up to £20,000 (RM118,200) or more per year,” the representative said.

The euro is trading at about RM5.05.

“There is a lot of interest in universities abroad, but parents cannot afford to send their children and look for scholarships and bursaries instead.

“Still, many are willing to tighten their belts to study in famous private UK universities,” the representative said.

Asked why students wanted to study abroad, she said the reasons included settlement opportunities and exposure to jobs.

The ringgit’s depreciation will affect students’ choices but this doesn’t apply to all parents or students.

Some will choose a more affordable option overseas or a one-to-two year course.

Another student representative named Lai said the impact of the ringgit was clear in students’ choices of destination now.

He said there were more inquiries for Canada, Australia and New Zealand. “There is a shift towards other countries because in terms of overall fees and living expenses, the other destinations were cheaper.

“For Malaysians, the United Kingdom is still the favourite choice, but it is very costly,” said Lai, who has been in the business for six years.

A representative from Selecta Education Group said many students were now opting for local universities due to the ringgit’s decline.

“Parents who have already sent their kids abroad to countries like Australia have to fork out more now.

This has strained their budget in terms of tuition fees and living expenses.

Banks are also very stringent with loans now.

“Australia is preferred because of job opportunities in healthcare as well as food and beverage industries,” she said.

She added students still prioritised countries where there were job opportunities or where they could opt to stay on.

It was reported that the ringgit opened higher against the US dollar yesterday.

At 9.10am, the ringgit rose to 4.6575/6625 versus the greenback compared with Friday’s close of 4.6710/6760.

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