UAE | Education

Fee hike: Dubai schools accused of fleecing parents

Parents claim Dubai private schools are using new KHDA framework to hit them in their pockets

  • By Shafaat Shahbandari, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 June 10, 2012
  • Gulf News

Students from Dubai Modern High School’s Nad Al Sheba campus make their way to the bus
  • Image Credit: ASGHAR KHAN/Gulf News Archives
  • Students from Dubai Modern High School’s Nad Al Sheba campus make their way to the bus after finishing classes.

Dubai: Private schools in Dubai have been accused of fleecing parents over plans to bump up fees.

The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has already allowed increases at 83 schools, while more than 20 applications are pending.

According to KHDA, out of 146 private schools, 129 are eligible for fee increases in accordance with the framework announced in April. So far 117 schools have applied.

Mohammad Darwish, Chief of Regulation and Compliance Commission at KHDA says approvals are only granted in respect of the framework.

However, parents are crying foul over the system, claiming they are being fleeced.

“My children study in a school which has been downgraded from good to acceptable, still it announced a fee hike of three per cent,” said parent Anthony Gomes, whose children attend a British school.

“KHDA should not allow schools that are downgraded or rated unsatisfactory to hike fees.”

Almost all Indian schools in Dubai announced a fee hikes ranging from three to nine per cent in the middle of the year, with retrospective effect.

“[We received] one simple SMS from the school [to say that] tuition and transport fees have been revised with permission from the KHDA,” said Naman B., whose two children study at Delhi Private School.

“If [a parent has] already paid for this term, the difference will be made up in the next term fee. I am sure it’s going to hurt many parents’ plans.”

The KHDA says Indian schools were allowed to implement the fee hike retrospectively because their academic year starts early, after the framework was announced.

“The School Fees Framework was released on April 8, 2012 by the Executive Council and all private schools (including Indian curriculum schools) were required to implement it from the academic year 2012-13,” Darwish said.

“Since Indian curriculum schools had already begun their academic year a week prior to the announcement of the framework, Indian schools applied the fee retrospectively.”

It’s not the way the framework has been implemented that irks the parents, it’s the system of inspection that is attached to the fee hike, which many say is not based on reality.

‘Good is bad’

“I always wonder how KHDA decides the quality of the school as when they go for inspection, schools change everything from attitude towards children to general atmosphere in the premises,” said one parent, who asked to remain anonymous.

“Suddenly the teachers become so polite, the school becomes clean, intelligent students are taught what they have to say in front of the inspectors and so on.

“Some parents are also called in to be at the school and they know too what they have to say.

“If schools earn their good ratings based on such a show then this good is bad for parents as these ratings are used to hike fees.”

The parent claimed to have written several times to the KHDA without response.

Schools argue that fee increases do not match the rising cost of providing education.

“We can make fees more affordable for parents if government gives land to schools to have their own buildings,” said Guruswami Kalloor, CEO of JSS International School, which increased fees by 3 per cent and was rated ‘acceptable’.

A spokesperson from GEMS, which manages several schools including Dubai Modern, said: “The ability to increase fees is linked to inspection outcomes as per KHDA’s policy.

“Dubai Modern High School achieved an ‘outstanding’ rating meaning it could increase fees by 6 per cent.

“The fees will go towards the continual improvement in teaching and learning, infrastructure and salaries so that Modern’s outstanding students continue to receive the very best education.”

Comments (29)

  1. Added 22:21 June 10, 2012


    Anonymous, DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 22:08 June 10, 2012

    There has been an increase of fees enormously. More people are unemployed and the fees are increasing enormously. KHDA should not permit schools to increase the fees ... I sincerely hope that KHDA takes this into consideration and works on it and listens the advice of parents and work accordingly for the welfare of the parents as well as students.

    aqsa, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 21:01 June 10, 2012

    Its a very sad state for teachers and students alike when the inspections are in progress. I can assure 100% that no teaching and learning takes place during this time. There is no job satisfaction at any time of the year as all the teachers are busy doing things that have been newly introduced and find no base in the school curriculum. I am a teacher myself at one of the Indian schools that has got the OUTSTANDING rating,

    Mrs MMS, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 20:36 June 10, 2012

    My daughter's teacher was changed twice during 2011-2012 acedmic year. During the parent-teacher meeting the teacher was not able to judge the performance of the child as she had recently joined the school. God knows how will she set the final exam papers since she didn't even have an idea of the portion being taught by the previous teacher before she left. Is KHDA asking parents for their feedback or just listening to the schools? Education and Medical professions are the best to make more and more money.

    Sailesh, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 19:53 June 10, 2012

    KHDA must pay surprise visits to schools, talk with teachers, students and parents to get a feel of what is truly happening. Many a time, even teachers are treated differently with regards to pay scale. Nowadays anybody can teach is the policy of some schools, regardless of qualification or ability. Parents are asked to pay for the hike in fees, but has the standard improved? Are more facilities provided? How does it match up?

    julie, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 18:36 June 10, 2012

    We parents are to give good comment about the school at the time of their inspection. By giving good reports we are putting ourselves in an expected increase in the payment of fees. Fee increase are kind of acceptable, but why bus charges are increased? This is really money making business. There is no justification on such increase. If the authorities find some schools doing good give some discounts on services or such things through which let the school benefit. Not by penalising parents. Hope someone who is responsible will go through this issue.

    Santhosh, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 16:41 June 10, 2012

    Sad for Parents who are trying to make ends meet. We get 1% raise in our salary and we have to pay 9% hike per child per annum. How can they justify the 9% raise? on what basis?

    Jackie, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 16:25 June 10, 2012

    Education & Hospitals are turned into best business by greedy people where as these should have been set as an example for human and social services! VERY UNFORTUNATE INDEED!!!

    Farha, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 16:02 June 10, 2012

    My ward goes to a school which got an outstanding rating but are charging very small fees as compared to what facilties they provide/as compared to other schools. However, the disturbing trend that I saw was a lot of 'good teachers'/supervisors have just been quitting in droves since I understand the pay structure is not attractive. I am told the school management cannot revise the teacher's pay as the school fees are quite low. I am ready to pay a little revision in fees but they should offer competetive package to teachers so that they CAN SUSTAIN the ratings and ensure that they can retain good talent. Sometimes a little revision in fees is necessary so that the service standards are maintained.

    Sanju, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 15:09 June 10, 2012

    Khda is trying to improve the standard, but the problem is the example of common students when exams are arriving they rush everywhere where they find some thing they get it. When the KHDA inspection week is informed extra activities are started, all head's are roaming in corridor, running from one corner to other, pressure on teachers, more pratical work. this shows that school is doing this only for their rating and making fools of students. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED IS SURPRISE VISIT DURING PEAK HOURS OF SCHOOL.

    hassan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  11. View more comments

Gulf News