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Under the School Fees Framework, the rate by which schools can adjust their fees is tied to each school’s most recent inspection rating. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has announced an Education Cost Index (ECI) of 2.6 per cent, allowing private schools in the city to adjust their fees for the 2024-25 academic year.

The ECI is based on the annual audited financial statements of private schools in Dubai, which outline the operational cost of running a private school to offer a high quality of education, and is calculated in collaboration with Digital Dubai Authority.

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Under the School Fees Framework, the rate by which schools can adjust their fees is tied to each school’s most recent inspection rating.

Any fee adjustment by schools must be approved by KHDA.

How it works

Private schools that maintain the same inspection rating will be allowed to increase their fees by up to 2.6 per cent. Schools dropping in the annual ratings will not be eligible to apply for any fee increase.

In numbers
365,000 students attend 220 private schools offering 17 different curricula in Dubai
77 per cent of students were enrolled in schools rated ‘Good’ or better during the last academic year
Enrolment at Dubai private schools increased by 12 per cent since the last academic year

Schools that improve their rating from 'Weak' to 'Acceptable' or from 'Acceptable' to 'Good' will be eligible to increase their fees by up to double the ECI of 2.6 per cent.

Schools moving from 'Good' to 'Very Good' will benefit from an increase of up to 1.75 times the ECI and schools improving their rating from 'Very Good' to 'Outstanding' will be eligible to increase their fees by up to 1.5 times the ECI.

Shamma AlMansouri, Director of Permits at KHDA, said: “Aligning the fee adjustment with schools’ inspections ratings emphasises the quality offered by schools, while enhancing the competitiveness of the sector and encouraging schools to meet the needs of parents by catering to the needs of a diverse student body to ensure access to high quality education for all children.

Shamma AlMansouri

“Furthermore, the application of a scientific methodology to monitor and analyse the audited financial statements of private schools in Dubai allows for a transparent process that takes into account the interests of all our stakeholders and ensures continuous improvement in the quality of education offered by schools while also safeguarding the sustainability of the private schools’ sector.”

The School Fees Framework was introduced to allow schools to develop long-term growth plans while contributing to a robust and reliable private education sector that offers families a choice of high-quality education.

Enrolment at Dubai private schools increased by 12 per cent since the last academic year.

2023 inspection ratings at a glance

A total of 199 schools were inspected during the last round of inspections, including six schools that were inspected for the first time.

As many as 20 schools were rated ‘Outstanding’; 39 ‘Very Good’; 84 ‘Good’; and 55 ‘Acceptable’.

Only one school was rated ‘Weak’.

In other words, nearly 77 per cent of students were enrolled in schools rated ‘Good’ or better during the last academic year. Seventy six per cent of Emirati students (22,876) attended a private school rated ‘Good’ or better.

In all, 25 schools improved their ratings, with 39,795 students benefitting from the positive change.

Schools react

Private schools in Dubai have welcomed the announcement.

Dino Varkey, Group Chief Executive Officer of GEMS Education, which runs 27 schools in Dubai, told Gulf News, "GEMS Education has noted today’s announcement from KHDA.

Dino Varkey

"The decision to increase school fees for academic year 2024-25, depending on KHDA approval for each school, empowers us to invest further in our teachers, curriculum provision, and facilities, the bedrocks of a quality education for every student.

"We will be informing our families in due course about their schools’ fee structure for the coming academic year, and we thank them again for their continuing trust in a GEMS Education school as the best choice for their children."

Sheela Menon, Principal of Ambassador School, Dubai, said, “As you know, the ECI is connected with the school ratings.

Sheela Menon

"As a ‘Very Good’ school, we are eligible for a 2.6 per cent fee increase. Looking at inflation, increased cost of resources, hiring quality teachers, higher bus expenses due to fuel price increases, the cost of school operations has also gone up.

"The ECI will work in favour of the school to meet this requirement and ensure a high standard of education.”

Poonam Bhojani, CEO Innoventures Education that operates Dubai International Academy at Emirates Hills & Al Barsha, Collegiate Intetnational School, Raffles World Academy, Raffles International School and Raffles ECCs, said, “The visionary leadership that we are all privileged to have in Dubai has always focused on building Dubai as a world class city. An integral part of their vision has been a strong foundation provided through world class education that is of the highest standards while ensuring accessibility for all. Much thought goes into reviewing the ECI each year that forms an integral part of the fee framework as conceptualised by the authorities.

"At each stage we are committed to supporting the leadership of Dubai with doing our best in ensuring outstanding outcomes of our over 9000 pupils. We will continue to do this to the best of our abilities.”

No fee increase at this school group

Meanwhile, the management of one group of school said there will be no fee increase across its school..

Punit MK Vasu, CEO, The Indian High Group of Schools, said, The Indian High Group of Schools remains deeply committed to providing high quality affordable education. KHDA has permitted our not-for-profit group of schools to apply for a fee adjustment outside and higher of the rate eligibility scale, depending on the needs of our group. We are delighted to announce that despite the ever-increasing operational costs, current rates of inflation that are at a record-high across the globe, and the permission from KHDA to increase fees beyond the normal scale, we have chosen yet again not to increase tuition fees for the academic year 2024-2025. We are exactly as we did last year choosing to keep school tuition fees as is and maintaining status quo.”

Punit MK Vasu

He said, “As a community group of schools, we empathize with the financial challenges that some of our parents face and believe that the savings parents benefit from not having a fee increase will give our parents the choice and freedom to pick and choose other areas of prioritised spending for their learners. We strongly believe it is imperative to support all our stakeholders in ensuring they have continual access to world class learning without having to face the added pressure of an increase in tuition fees.”

Meanwhile, the group will continue to make considerable investments in technology and learning tools to further enhance effective teaching-learning methodologies, he said, adding, an expanded and upgraded fleet of buses is a highlight of the infrastructure provisions for the new academic year.

“We will continue to aggressively upgrade buildings, furniture, fixtures, equipment and infrastructure across all three campuses with a well thought out expansion and refurbishment plan,” he noted.