University is unaffordable - but worth the cost, parents say

Seven in 10 parents believe that university has become unaffordable for most people in the UK, research has found.

Caroline Connellan, Head of UK Wealth, HSBC

But despite the cost, nearly half still believe that their child needs an undergraduate degree as a minimum to achieve their life goals.

Some 72 per cent of parents would like their child to follow a specific career path, with engineering and medicine topping the list of their preferred choices. Nine in 10 parents said they plan to contribute to their child’s tuition fees and/or living costs.

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Across the UK, parents who currently borrow, or plan to do so, to fund their children’s university costs expect to be repaying the debt for eight years on average - and for their children to be typically paying off their share for 12 years.

Caroline Connellan, head of UK wealth at HSBC, said that university costs can be the biggest financial commitment that families face, aside from their mortgage.

She said: “Many parents feel a responsibility to help pay for their children’s education but despite best laid plans, by the time their children reach university age, parents haven’t saved as much as they had intended. With the cost of university continuing to rise, planning ahead can help ease financial pressure.

“Being prepared by understanding options available and taking action early can give parents the confidence that they can support their children through university in years to come.”

Some 352 parents from across the UK, who have at least one child aged 23 or younger who is currently or soon to be in education, took part in the survey.

It also found that parents see independence and learning to be financially responsible among the most important skills university offers.

Nearly two thirds of UK parents would consider sending their child abroad to university, and of those, 59 per cent would be prepared to pay more compared to what they would pay to educate their child in the UK.