Money & Power

Around 79 Percent of Students Say Managing Expenses Is Most Stressful Part of Living Abroad, Report Says

Here's how you can financially prepare your children before they pack up and fly.

Parents want to provide the best education for their children and sometimes, that means leaving home and crossing oceans to get one. 

Based on the UNESCO database of Global Flow of Tertiary-Level Students, there are over 16,000 students from the Philippines studying abroad. Australia is a favored destination hosting 32 percent of the total, while the United States is next with 18 percent, followed by New Zealand at eight percent and the United Kingdom with some four percent.

If your child is looking to study abroad, there’s a great deal of preparation that’s involved. It can mean planning at least a year ahead: vetting schools across continents, taking qualifying tests, getting a student visa when accepted, seeking scholarships if possible, and many more.

Beyond the academic requirements, there’s another checklist you will need to put together to ensure your child is ready for her or his new life overseas. Global financial services giant HSBC recently disclosed that 79 percent of overseas students found the financial aspects of studying abroad stressful.


And this is not because of concerns on paying their tuition, as most have their parents sponsoring them. Based on the results of the bank’s annual Overseas Education 2019 study, around one-third said it was difficult to set up an account or get a credit card once they landed, which no doubt made day-to-day spending quite frustrating.

The study, conducted online in June 2019, drew respondents from 11 markets: Australia, Mainland China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, U.K., and U.S. students between the ages of 17 to 29 years old who are current international students or who have studied abroad in the last five years took part in the study.  

It started in 2014 and each year focused on a different aspect of education. This year’s study is on the international student experience, while last year’s was focused on how parents cope with the cost of overseas education. In 2017, the study was on parents’ interest and reception to considering a university education abroad for their child.


While the research was commissioned by HSBC, it was designed and managed by Edelman Intelligence, an independent market research agency, using Dynata as the panel provider. 

According to Peter Faulhaber, head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management for HSBC Philippines: “Filipino families regard education as the most important investment they can give to secure their children’s future. The number of Filipino students studying abroad almost doubled from 2008 to 2018, with more students being mobile, adventurous and independent, attending universities or participating in exchange programs overseas.”

To ensure your children will have a smoother landing money-wise in their new academic home for the next few years, consider the financial checklist below:

1. Set up an overseas bank account from home.

It’s good to plan how your child can access money while abroad. From the Philippines, you can approach banks with an international presence for help to open an overseas account for your child before he or she departs for university. It’s better to open an account with a bank that has operating branches in the city where your child will study. Another option is to pre-book an appointment online so your child can open an account with ease as soon as she or he arrives.


2. Research on credit or debit cards in your new destination.

A credit card is a handy payment tool when overseas. And when you can get one in your place of study, you can build a credit history while earning rewards even as you enjoy travel benefits and fraud protection. If you prefer a debit card, that’s ideal too when you want access to cash via ATMs or pay electronically at stores.

3. Don’t leave home without health and insurance protection.

Just as you need one at home or when you travel, make sure your child has health and insurance protection as he or she sets off for university. Most schools require students to have insurance coverage but it’s always wise to check if this is enough.  Consider life insurance, plus health insurance, and even travel insurance to cover for lost or delayed baggage, travel delays, and missed flights. Shop for reliable insurance companies so you can count on them when needed.


4. Budget for their home away from home.

Students have the option of staying in campus dorms or off-campus at private homes or homestay arrangements. Take note of all the options and consider what would be best for your child. Some prefer to stay within campus and pick dorms that host international students so they have common ground. Others choose to rent private homes so they have a place to stay too when visiting their child. Then there are those that even consider purchasing a property for investment. Weigh all these options with your child’s need in mind and of course, future returns to your portfolio.

5. Be ready for real-time transfers with a few clicks.

Money emergencies happen and you two can rest easy knowing Mom or Dad can send help with just a few clicks, and that your child can receive it in real-time. This is easier when you both bank with a global bank that offers multiple currencies in one account. Again, do your research so you will not be hit with what can be hefty bank fees. 


In China, HSBC International Education Payment System enables clients to pay in multi-currency for their children’s tuition fees at over 1,000 overseas education institutions via mobile banking or HSBC China’s WeChat service account.

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About The Author
Aneth Ng-Lim
After working in a corporate setting for 25 years, Aneth decided to focus her efforts on her other true passion—writing. A writer by training and profession, Aneth says she finds inspiration in her family and her many personal advocacies. During her free time, this voracious reader can often be found in a bookstore or library.
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