Growing worry over rising cost of studying overseas

PETALING JAYA: With the rising cost of higher education abroad compounded by a weaker ringgit, parents are rethinking their plans to send their children abroad for further studies.

Account manager Robert Ling, 56, said apart from the exchange rate factor, tuition fees have also been increasing over the years.

“I’ve looked at Australia and the United Kingdom as possible countries for my child to study in.

“Some even suggested Ireland as a possibility, but tuition fees alone go up to RM100,000 yearly.

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“Over three years, it works up to close to RM400,000,” he said, adding that the amount did not include daily expenses.

This, he said, made him have second thoughts on whether to send his child abroad.

“Instead, we are thinking of a twinning programme where perhaps they can have two years locally and a year abroad. “That would be more viable and affordable in the current situation,” he said.

A mother of three, who only wanted to be known as Rozita, 52, shared the same sentiment. “I wanted to send my youngest son to the United Kingdom for his degree, but the cost has risen so much since my eldest went there for further studies.

“Prices have increased significantly, with the exchange rate also being a factor.

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“I will have further discussions with my husband to make sure we make the right choice, both education-wise and financially,” she said.

Rozita added that she is leaning towards local private universities as the tuition fees are significantly cheaper for the same course.

Meanwhile, accountant Christine Koh, whose eldest son is currently studying in an independent secondary school, said she is prepared to send him abroad to further his studies.

“My son is sitting for his Unified Examination Certificate ... There are not many choices for him locally.“Some fees might have increased but I will have to face it and work around it when it’s time for him to go,” she said.

Koh, 41, who graduated from a university in Australia via credit transfer from a local college, said the minimum requirement of having A$24,505 (RM76,852) in a student’s savings account to demonstrate financial capability to cover annual living costs is a “reasonable” one.

“The amount is about A$2,000 (RM6,272) a month.

“While the rent of a normal room can come up to A$500 (RM1,568) weekly, the amount is only enough to cover a student’s monthly accommodation,” she said.

Koh noted that she would still let her children study abroad when she has the financial means to do so, as there are more choices and focus areas in the courses offered.

“I remember I was offered a place in the government’s matriculation programme after my SPM (exams).

“(However) it was not the stream I wanted.

“I could either continue with Form Six and reapply after the STPM exams, but it was hard to ensure I could get the course I liked.“So I decided to go to a private college and abroad,” she said.

Koh suggested that Malaysia should adopt an open and merit-based system for students to choose what they want to study.

A mother who only wanted to be known as Jessica, 41, from Melaka, agreed that the increase in fees may jeopardise the plans of some families to send their children overseas for studies.

“This will depend on their financial status and income.

“If a family has long prepared to send their children to study abroad, they have likely made financial arrangements considering the consistent 10% annual increase in fees over the years,” she said.

The healthcare professional, who is also a mother of two, said she and her husband have been planning their 16-year-old son’s education pathway since last year.

“The decision vastly depends on his preference to stay or venture abroad.

“I have encouraged and will continue to urge him to explore overseas opportunities for a more enriching experience.

“Sending him abroad isn’t just about access to a well-rounded education.

“It is (also) about fostering key soft skills like resourcefulness, adaptability and problem-solving.

“It also helps them to build resilience, self-awareness and, most importantly, confidence.

“As a parent, I hope all these valuable traits will help them to be a better person.

”However, Jessica agreed that studying locally is really “much more affordable”. “Nevertheless, I wouldn’t want to deprive them of the chance to explore the world if it’s within my means,” she added.

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