For students who are going back to school after the holidays, the thought of returning to student poverty is a bit overwhelming. Especially in the UK and the US, where tuition fees eat into the majority of people’s budgets.

Tuition fees at British universities are among the highest in the world, but they don’t even come close to topping the list of countries where parents spend the most of their income on their children’s education.

Online B2B Supplier Site Expert Market analysed tuition fee information from the QS Top Universities, for academic years 2014/2015 and the Gallup Median Self-Reported income report data in 2013.

It found the UK and US are actually somewhere in the middle of the top 11.

According to the list, which is based upon tuition fees for a standard Bachelor’s Degree as a percentage of household income around the world, some parents are willing to pay over 90% of their household income for a standard bachelor’s degrees at public institutions for their children.

Business Insider took a look and added updated info about country income.


Total tuition fee cost: $24,000 (£15,821)

% of salary spent on tuition fees: 18%

There are 500 colleges and universities in Japan, which keeps tuition fees low compared to other countries. However, higher education here focuses mainly on science, maths, engineering disciplines, meaning that many humanities majors go abroad to study.


Total tuition fee cost: $35,400 (£23,336)

% of salary spent on tuition fees: 36%

Singapore only has five public university campuses and tuition for medical and science-related subjects is naturally very expensive. However, Singapore is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and high incomes mean parents spend just over one-third of their salaries on ensuring their children get at least an undergraduate degree.


Total tuition fee cost: $40,290 (£26,560)

% of salary spent on tuition fees: 42%

British universities charge so much that they account for almost half the average household’s earnings. However, it is only ninth on the list because the country has higher wages. Tuition fees in the UK can cost up to £10,000 ($15,654) a year, depending on the subject and University.


Total tuition fee cost: $23,904 (£15,759)

% of salary spent on tuition fees: 48%

Students in 2009 protested across the capital of Lithuania against educational reforms because they believed that it would increase the costs of attending university. Students’ parents have been forced to spend nearly half of their salaries on paying for higher education.


Total tuition fee cost: $23,200 (£15,292)

% of salary spent on tuition fees: 52%

At one time, Ukraine had more universities per capita than Italy, France, German, Poland, and Belgium combined. The country has reduced its number of universities from 909 to just over 200 over the past few years. Some universities have specialised military institu­tions within them so that their graduates can immediately go into active service.

United States

Total tuition fee cost: $91,832 (£60,510)

% of salary spent on tuition fees: 53%

Tuition fees in the United States are notoriously high. While that figure above represents the average cost of a bachelor’s degree in America, tuition fees at some of the world’s most prestigious universities can be as high as $45,278 (£30,834).

“Many of the most expensive cities are in the top ten for the same reason: Their wages are low, so even a small amount taken out of their salaries leaves them with less money.”

However, what you see with Britain and America is fairly generous wages when comparing them to other countries, but huge fees which reach tens of thousand dollars per year. Compounding this, what seems to happen now is that fees keep rising each year but wages don’t, so higher education is something which only the elite could afford.


Total tuition fee cost: $18,000 (£11,863)

% of salary spent on tuition fees: 55%

The country has around twenty universities and fees are competitive when compared to the rest of Europe. However, in Malaysia, the average wage is only RM 2,052 (£310, $470) a month. Without scholarships or loans, parents would lose over half of their wages in tuition fees


Total tuition fee cost: $23,600 (£15,554)

% of salary spent on tuition fees: 73%

A massive wave of students’ protests took place from 2011 to 2013, dubbed the “Chilean winter”. These protests aimed to end the existence of private universities as poorer families are unable able to afford to send their children to university.


Total tuition fee cost: $38,400 (£25,310)

% of salary spent on tuition fees: 76%

The Estonian government has made the development of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) a national priority since 2011. Over the last few years, tuition costs have increased significantly. However, these degrees carry the most expensive fees.


Total tuition fee cost: $25,200 (£16,609)

% of salary spent on tuition fees: 86%

Romania has a large concentration of students studying science, especially medicine, within its higher education system. However, because the average person only earns £429 (or $651) per month, only the wealthy can afford to send their children to university.


Total tuition fee cost: $34,200 (£22,358)

% of salary spent on tuition fees: 92%

Hungarian parents spend the average of nearly a whole average annual income on higher education for their children, limiting participation to people who have savings or are highly dependent on loans. However, the government allows students to gain a free college education – as long as he/she stays in the country for 10 year after graduation or faces paying back his/her tuition fees.


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