While a degree in business education opens the door to a great career by equipping a student with all the tools he/she needs to succeed in life, it comes with a steep price tag. If you or your parents have the funds to sponsor your degree, then half your worries are eased. But what are the options for students in the UAE who must depend on banks to finance their dream of pursuing business programmes?
Limited options for students
A number of banks in the UAE, both local and multinational, finance higher education, but their funding options are restricted to salaried employees. Students with no jobs are thus not eligible for any education loans against third-party guarantee or collateral.
When deciding on the amount for a loan, experts advise students to assess programmes or courses for a sum beyond their tuition fees. Along with the tuition rates, they should also be prepared to spend a substantial sum on books, accommodation, food and other peripheral expenses.
If you are a mid-career professional wishing to further your career with a degree in business studies, you can conveniently source finance from banks. Barclays Bank, for instance, provides an Executive MBA (EMBA) finance loan in partnership with leading international business schools in the UAE.
"We have partnered with the Dubai-based London Business School, CASS Business School, Middlesex University and Murdoch University," says Venkatesh Srikantan, Head of Consumer Banking, Barclays UAE. "The loan is aligned to the payment schedule set by the business school with the fees being paid directly to the institution at the start of each academic year. The bank offers students studying at these institutions opportunities to benefit from its preferential pricing as well."
The loan is available for individuals with a minimum monthly income of Dh8,000. A borrower can choose to repay the loan either through a salary transfer into a Barclays account or by providing post-dated cheques from his salary account at any other bank.
Srikantan says that since the EMBA programmes are demanding, Barclays Bank provides students with the convenience to make small, interest-only payments during the time of their study — which takes up to two years — after which they can start making full instalment payments including the principal amount of their loans.
Loans on offer for parents
Another bank that is prominent in the field of education loans is the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB). It offers loans not only to students applying for higher education but also customers who are looking to fund their children's higher studies. They are available even for students pursuing courses abroad. Offering amounts between Dh10,000 and Dh250,000 with repayment option of tenors up to 48 months, ADCB's education loans are sought after in the UAE student community. The bank has the facility to directly remit the fees to the university where the student has enrolled for a programme. With the interest ranging between 10 and 14 per cent, the bank calculates its interest on reducing balance.
Offering up to Dh500,000, Dubai-headquartered Mashreq bank has a tailored education loan for working students and residential parents to fund higher studies.
"Students of the Institute of Management Technology and Murdoch University availing of an education loan from Mashreq bank are eligible for special discounts on their tuition fees," says Nimish Dwivedi, Head of Personal Banking at Mashreq. Parents residing in the UAE can also avail of Mashreq's education loans for students going abroad to pursue higher studies.
Apart from education loans, personal loans can also come to your rescue and assist you in funding degrees. You can get a personal loan from UAE banks without producing any collateral or security. Financial experts point out that personal loans often are cheaper and their repayments are easily manageable when compared with borrowing funds on credit cards.
Since business education is capital-intensive, prepare yourself in advance and consult experts to find out whether the course or the college is worth the cost and the long-term debt. It is also critical to assess whether the course suits your temperament and that you are likely to succeed in your career when you graduate.
Scout for scholarships
To help ease the financial burden of funding your college education, you can look for grants and scholarships offered by charitable educational trusts, governments and universities. Sanjeev Verma, Director of Intelligent Partners, a Dubai-based higher education consultancy firm, points out that as courses in business education are very popular, winning scholarships to attend business schools may not be as easy as it seems.
However, the good news is that there are plenty of scholarship opportunities for business management students. All they need to do is research extensively to find out how they can maximise their chances of getting one that can help them on the path to a career in business.
Shanthi Ramachandran, Managing Director of the Dubai-based IQ Education Consultants, says in the US students can try to get scholarships based on their CVs, essays, work experience, extracurricular activities, community services rendered, internships and passion for courses applied for. They can also win scholarships through teaching assistantships if they are applying for master's degrees or research-based courses. Undergraduate students too can get tuition fee waivers in many schools if they score exceptionally well in high schools.
In the US, an undergraduate programme in business studies can cost you between $8,000 (Dh29,376) and $35,000 annually depending on the course and also the status of the university, while in the UK it can be between £9,500 (Dh55,201) and £12,500. In the UAE, for a three- to four-year BBA in a prominent business school, you should be prepared to fork out more than Dh150,000.
"The fact that countries such as the US, the UK and Canada allow students to work legally for 20 hours during their course is a big attraction, as most students can take care of their personal and pocket money expenses without having to depend on their parents. Besides, it is excellent work experience for them to add on their CVs," Ramachandran says.
While it is easier to win scholarships in the US and Canada, scholarships are rarer and harder to get in the UK. However, schools in the UK offer discounted tuition fees called bursaries based on students' profiles and nationalities.
Students in the UAE can qualify for scholarships on the basis of their excellence in academics and sports. Contact colleges in the UAE directly to find out more about their scholarship programmes.