The Westminster School in Dubai that has a strength of around 5,000 students will close down from June 2014, GEMS education announced yesterday.
Fee regulations imposed by the Dubai government has made the British curriculum school unsustainable, according to GEMS, the UAE’s single biggest school operator.
“In recent times GEMS’ ability to invest the resources required to produce the improvements needed, both educationally and in infrastructure, have been severely restricted because of the current fee structure. At the Westminster School, over the past five years the average fee increase, per annum, has been just Dh167. That equates to around Dh13 a month. For two of the past five years there has been no fee increase at all,” GEMs said in a statement issued to Gulf News.
A spokesman for the school said GEMS believes that using a percentage fee increase based on inspection outcomes doesn’t work for low fee paying schools because of the diversity and breadth of education in the UAE.
The Knowledge and Human Development Authority, that approved the closure of the school ,was not available for comment.
The school located in the Al Ghusais area charges a tuition fee between Dh5,000 to Dh10,000 for KG to Grade 12.
“GEMS cannot offer a high quality education at this level. Salary increases during the same period have been at a level higher than any fee awards,” GEMS told parents in a letter issued on Sunday.
Parents who spoke with XPRESS said they are shocked at the news as Westminster is one of the most affordable British curriculum schools in Dubai.
“I got the letter today and we still have not figured out what to do. The school was very affordable compared to most of the other British schools in Dubai,” said Zafar, a parent. His daughter is studying in KG1.
According to him, tuition fees in other British curriculum schools including the newly opened Westminster school in Sharjah is more than double.
“I have two kids studying in the school. I will have to cough up double the current fee if I have to send them to any other British school in Dubai,” said Manazir Abbas, another parent.
GEMS said it will give priority placement for Westminster students in other GEMS schools from 2013 onwards.
With inputs by Noor Nazzal, an intern at Gulf News