The property consultancy Cavendish Maxwell is hitting the books — it has set up an education department to assist investors planning to build school assets.

“What we are really seeing here is the maturing of the education market and as part of this we are likely to enter a period of consolidation creating significant opportunities as well as many challenges for investors, school operators and landowners,” said Mark Ryder, specialist adviser for education, valuation and advisory at the firm.

“Cavendish Maxwell has extensive school funding expertise and is able to put operators, investors and landowners together to respond to the market and regulatory opportunities.”

It has been involved in the sale and leaseback transactions for school properties.

At the end of the last academic year, Dubai had 173 private schools with a capacity for nearly 300,000 students. The KHDA (Knowledge and Human Development Authority) has made it a goal of increasing this number by 20 per cent by the academic year 2019-20.

A further 10 schools are likely to open between now and end 2018. Since 2014, 40 new schools have opened in Dubai, of which 15 opened in September 2016 alone.

“The new for profit entrants to the Dubai market will be disruptive as they have learnt lessons from schools opening over the last few years and have focused on filling gaps and differentiating themselves,” said Ryder. “There are certainly gaps for schools focusing on International Baccalaureate programmes, bi-lingual teaching, mid-fee tuition rates and special needs. It doesn’t necessarily follow that the new comers will be the casualties of a competitive market.”