23-year old Singaporean Atheena Som decided against studying in Australia this year, opting to stay in Singapore where tuition and living costs are more affordable.
"I wanted to study in Australia for the experience, but the cost of living and tuition there deterred me. I did not feel the quality of degree I'd get there was worth spending so much," said Atheena, who studies at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. "I stayed in Singapore for the benefit of subsidy, and cost of living is cheaper when we live with our parents," she added.
According to an HSBC report published this week, Atheena is not alone: the survey of 4,500 parents in 15 countries found the perception of the price and quality of Australian education is deteriorating.
The price of studying in Australia, including annual fees and cost of living, amounted to $42,000 a year, according to HSBC, making it the most expensive of the countries surveyed.
Despite high costs, the perception of quality of education in Australia was disproportionately lower. Only 25 percent of parents ranked Australia among the top three nations for education, compared with 51 percent and 38 percent for the U.S. and the U.K., respectively.
Australia has the highest concentration of international students in the world at 20 percent, well above the 7 percent global average, thus a reduction in numbers could hit the economy.
"Australia's high quality of life and proximity to Asia has enabled it to historically punch above its weight in attracting international students. However, it's imperative that Australia continues to demonstrate educational value to ensure that the in-flow of international students continues," said Graham Heunis, head of retail banking and wealth management for HSBC in Australia.