Dubai school fees set to jump up to 4.8%

Parents learn how much their school can hike fees after the release of new school ratings

Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
Gems Wellington International School students celebrate their school’s outstanding rating in KHDA school inspection for the year 2016-17.
Gulf News

Dubai: School fees in Dubai are expected to rise again for another academic year after the release of the latest school ratings on Tuesday. The hikes for the new school year (2017-18) will vary between 2.4 per cent and 4.8 per cent, in line with the government rating of the school and the Education Cost Index (ECI).

The new school year will begin in September, after the summer break.

In Dubai, school fee increases are tied to the annual ECI, announced by Dubai Statistics Centre. The latest ECI has been set at 2.4 per cent, with schools allowed to raise fees by up to double the ECI, depending on their rating.

‘Outstanding’ schools are eligible for a fee increase of up to 4.8 per cent — twice the ECI — for the new academic year. ‘Very good’ schools can increase fees by up to 4.2 per cent and ‘good’ schools by 3.6 per cent, while ‘acceptable’, ‘weak’, and ‘very weak’ schools are allowed a maximum 2.4 per cent increase. The new school ratings were announced by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) after the latest cycle of its annual inspections. The full inspection report is available on www.khda.gov.ae.

Of the 159 schools inspected this academic year, 16 schools were rated ‘outstanding’, 14 ‘very good’, 69 ‘good’, 50 ‘acceptable’ and 10 ‘weak’. None was rated ‘very weak’.

Biggest hikes

The biggest hikes are expected to come from UK schools in Dubai as they constitute 10 of the 16 ‘outstanding’ schools. Some of these UK schools also offer the IB curriculum.

The development means that the families of almost 29,500 students who study in the 16 ‘outstanding’ schools face a fee hike of 4.8 per cent.

Annual fees at the ‘outstanding’ schools vary greatly, from around Dh100,000 for the highest grade 12, to below Dh5,000 for primary education. It means parents face as much as Dh4,800 extra annually per child or as less as Dh240.

Sahil, an Indian parent whose two children attend an outstanding school, said he would be paying around Dh480 extra next academic year. “School fees keep going up every year, but many parents’ salaries have not gone up. So, even incremental increases pile up to become burdensome overtime,” he said.

No hike

However, some schools have decided not to raise fees. Ros Marshall, CEO of Taaleem, told Gulf News that the school group would not be increasing fees for the new 2017-18 academic year. Taaleem has nine schools in the UAE.

Marshall said: “Taaleem made the decision to freeze school fees across its portfolio for the new 2017-18 school year, also offering further sibling discounts and improved payment terms. These announcements were made in November 2016 to enable our parents to plan their future finances with a greater degree of certainty. Our parents welcomed this early announcement and the news was gratefully received.”

She added: “While staffing continues to be our major expenditure, rather than transferring the rising costs to families, we have tried to absorb inflationary pressures through cost review exercises and prudent housekeeping.

“Undoubtedly, these are challenging times, and as education providers it is a case of ‘evolve or be left behind’ as we strive to meet the fast-changing demands of the sector. We can create a positive change by listening to families and their concerns, making the most of our unique resources, our local knowledge, investing in top quality teaching and focusing on providing the best possible experience for every student within our care.”

Marshall also spoke about the latest school inspection reports, saying “we are extremely pleased that the [inspection] reports marked significant progress in all Taaleem’s Dubai schools, with our Uptown School in Mirdif joining our other ‘outstanding’ and ‘very good’ rated schools”.

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