Dubai: International students looking to study and live in the UAE continue to pay among the highest premiums in the world.

The cost of studying in the UAE is equivalent to about half (51 per cent) of the gross domestic product (GDP) per person, or nearly $28,000 (Dh102,760) per year, making it the fourth most expensive country for foreigners to study and live in, according to the latest research by HSBC.

The average annual fees and cost of living for international students in the UAE, at $21,371 and $6,004, respectively, put the country’s overall education cost ahead those of Canada, Singapore, Japan and Germany.

The living expenses in the country is one of the cheapest among most developed and emerging markets, after China, Taiwan and Germany, but the high university fees pushed it to the top of the table. Annual fees in the UAE is the third most expensive in the world, trumping other major markets including the United Kingdom. Australia tops the overall list, where a year of study costs $38,516, followed by the United States.

Household budget

For many people, spending for education constitutes a huge portion of the household budget. School fees in most markets in the world are getting more expensive by the year and the falling value of some currencies against the dirham and US dollar is not helping.

The Indian rupee, for one, has been sliding against the greenback and what this means to parents based in the South Asian country is that they will have to dig deeper into their pockets to be able to send their children to UAE schools.

“Education costs are generally prone to higher inflationary rates not just in the UAE but across the globe. For expatriates, education is generally the second-highest expense for families, the highest being expenses on house rent,” noted Ashok Sardana, managing director, Continental Group.

The high demand for education in the country is the reason behind the expensive school fees. The UAE is regarded as one of the top destinations among residents from around the world.

“The UAE’s stable political and economic environment, coupled with its favourable lifestyle for students, has made it the most attractive destination within this region for education, both for international students and for students from the neighbouring GCC and Middle Eastern markets,” Rick Crossman, head of UAE retail banking and wealth management at HSBC Bank Middle East, said.

Emerging market economies

A study by Dubai International Academic City, in conjunction with Deloitte, showed that the UAE is considered the fourth most attractive education destination in the world for students looking to study abroad. It is also regarded as the most attractive destination among the emerging market economies, ahead of China, Singapore and Australia.

“With increased investment in educational institutions and a variety of international-standard universities for students to choose from, we expect the UAE to retain its position as a favourable education destination for the foreseeable future,” Rick added.