Sending children back home or to other countries for higher studies remains to be the main option for many expatriates in Qatar, it is learnt.
“We do have an option but we cannot afford the high cost of college education here even though both of us are working,” said Shirley, a Filipino mother whose daughter is taking an architecture course in the Philippines. She is employed in one of the prestigious schools in the country while her husband works as an architect for a construction firm.
Two years ago, Shirley said the tuition fee for an architecture course in one of the colleges in Doha ranged between QR30,000 and QR55,000 per semester. Rates in many universities, depending on the course and level, are higher.
She noted that one college charges around QR21,000 but gives only a diploma for a number of programmes.
“That is one of the reasons why many expatriates like us prefer to send our children to universities in our home country,” Shirley added.
The couple only pay P40,000 (around QR3,149) per semester for their daughter who is studying in one of the most prestigious universities in the Philippines.
With a tuition of P160,000 (around QR12,598) per year for four semesters, they will only pay a total of P719,975 (around QR56,691).
If they decide to enroll their daughter in Doha for example, Shirley will pay a total of QR450,000 for a five-year course (QR90,000 per year for two semesters).
A Malaysian expatriate working in the oil sector in Qatar shares similar views saying many of his compatriots (couples), opted to send their children either back home or in other countries to finish their degrees.
Mohamed Zahed Abdullah said all his three children who are pursuing different degrees are in universities in Malaysia.
His son is studying Forensic Information Technology which he claims is not available in universities in Doha. His daughter wants to have a degree in mass communication while the other had graduated with a degree in multimedia journalism.
According to Abdullah, he was also able to save around 70% of the tuition fees he pays annually for the three students.
Ask about challenges they face as parents while away from their children, he said the advent of modern technology and Internet makes it easy to monitor and guide them.
“We are constantly communicating with each other through social media and other online channels,” he noted.
In many cases, it is learnt that those who were able to finish their degrees back home managed to return to Qatar and got employed.
Some tried to work for at least two years in their countries before seeking employment in Doha or in other GCC countries such as the United Arab Emirates.
For long-time Indian expatriate Edward Diaz, the cost of sending children abroad such as Canada and enrolling them in Qatar is almost the same.
Diaz’s daughter is taking up a pre medical course while his nephew, who is also in Toronto, is taking up marine engineering.
“What is important is that our children get good education,” he asserted. “I decided to send her to Canada when she did not get an admission here, and besides we are planning to settle there."