Higher education is the second-biggest financial commitment families make aside from a mortgage, according to an annual report by HSBC, as parents bear the brunt of the cost of sending their children to university in the UK.
Out of the almost 400 parents surveyed, 71 per cent said university is unaffordable for most people in the country, with nearly half (48%) saying an undergraduate degree or higher is necessary for their children to achieve their life goals.
Despite over 80 per cent saying independence and learning to be financially responsible were among the most important skills university offers, parents told HSBC they still expect to support their children financially throughout their time at university.
A staggering 90 per cent said they will contribute to their child’s tuition fees and/or living costs in the wake of finance cuts by Chancellor George Osborne who scrapped the maintenance grant, turning it into a loan.
With the revelation that a university degree is the most significant debt families have to repay after a mortgage, UK parents who currently borrow, or plan to borrow, to fund their children’s university costs said they expect to be repaying the debt for eight years, expecting their children to be paying off their share for 12 years.
Head of UK Wealth at HSBC, Caroline Connellan, described just how big a commitment parents are having to make on behalf of their children and said: “Many UK 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 in Britain rising, the survey found parents considering sending their children abroad to study in a desperate attempt to justify paying the high costs here in the UK.
67 per cent said they would consider sending their child abroad to university, with a further 59 per cent would be prepared to pay more for the experience compared to what they would pay to educate their child in the UK.
However, the main reason parents would not consider sending their child abroad is because they do not want their child to be too far from home (25%) or they could not afford it (24%).
Urging parents and guardians to plan ahead as the cost of university rises, Ms Connellan said: “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.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies