Manama: Kuwaiti university graduates are taking initiatives to save money for post-graduate studies amid hopes to improve their future career prospects.
"I began saving because I did not receive a scholarship for my postgraduate studies, Aysha Al Faraj, a Kuwait student, said. "Even if you study locally, there are no domestic scholarships for postgraduate studies here yet while the fees are high," she said, quoted by Kuwaiti daily Kuwait Times.
According to Aysha, salaries in Kuwait are no longer sufficient and despite increases in the salaries of many employees within the public sector, many graduates are struggling to save enough money to fund postgraduate studies abroad.
"More and more people are now heading towards graduate studies to make more money later on in their career. Paying for further qualifications, however, is expensive. It is the reason why many people in my social circle for example have begun saving."
A banking sector source told the daily that more graduates are starting to save for their future. "We have quite a few 20-somethings opening accounts to save specifically for further education," the source said. "Some succeed, but many empty the accounts within six months to a year of opening them. Traditionally, parents pay for such costs if the government does not cover them. But many are not in the position to do so anymore, especially since their kids can secure good jobs in the public sector without a postgraduate degree."
However, according to Hajjaj Bukhadour, an economist, pursuing further education abroad is beneficial even if work has already been secured locally.
"It is best to continue onto a Masters degree, and to reach international qualification standards," he said. "The work environment in Kuwait is very bad usually, so students will not necessary gain much practical experience at work. Management are often appointed because of connections, not because of qualification, and their weaknesses seep throughout the entire organization, which has an especially detrimental effect on fresh graduates," he said.
Mohammad, 24, said that he did not "upgrade" his car for the past two years in order to use the money to study abroad and get his Master's degree.
"We cannot complain about inefficiency and mismanagement unless we plan to do something about it," he said. "I do not like the way some managers are at work, so I am saving for the qualifications that will make me a better manager in the future. Change requires effort and planning, not constant complaining."
Mohammad said he has been saving for two years, and was aiming to save KD 15,000 for his Masters in International Business and Management.
"I cannot just go to my parents now and ask for the money. I am 24. I have been working for three years and I make good money. But the problem here is that lifestyle is expensive. The experience of being abroad is really valuable, and worth saving for. Costs like utilities and groceries are low here, but you have to maintain an image, and that eats into savings.
However, according to Mohammad, studying abroad is an image thing in itself.
"I think most people are actually saving for the chance to be abroad more than the opportunity to further their education. Besides, sacrifice in this society is hard and for instance, being caught in a sale section or a discount store can spark ridiculous gossip."
The sacrifice, according to Bukhadour, is worth it. "The only way to excel is through strong qualifications and valid experience. Many youths get generous allowances, and instead of spending them on entertainment they could invest in themselves and save for further education. If they are working to save for the money themselves, it will make them more responsible."