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School Operators have welcomed the 'no-fee-hike' decision by the KHDA Image Credit:

Dubai: Private school operators in Dubai have welcomed the decision of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) to freeze fee raise this year in private schools as the right step towards maintaining affordability in education for parents.

Private schools in Dubai will not be eligible for tuition fees hike from the new academic year starting September 2020, according to Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).

Kamal Kalwani, vice chairperson of Ambassador Schools UAE said: “I respect the regulatory authority’s decision to freeze the fee structure this year as this is a right step. I see this as a short term decision which will bring relief to parents but at the same time not harm the interests of the school operators."

Although, he noted, teacher wages are rising, the overall cost of running schools is going down owing to the relief in government fees extended by the rulers. "Home rents are going down in Dubai and I think more parents from neighbouring emirates are expected to migrate to Dubai an in the end the policies of the government will benefit us. So even though we might take a hit of Dh500,000 in fee freeze, we stand to gain with all the other prices coming down which is bound to have a positive impact on the operational costs of running schools. This will make education in Dubai more attractive to the community,” he added.

Gavin Walford Wright, Chief People, Marketing and Admissions Officer, Taleem Schools, said: "The Taaleem family of schools are an integral part of their communities and our staff know their students and parents by name. We also tend to know what is happening in their lives and provide support wherever we can.

"We listened to their feedback and following consultation with our parent body, Board and KHDA we took the decision in November last year to reduce or at least maintain school fees across our schools for the academic year 2020/2021."

Education Cost Index

The announcement of no school fee hike follows the release of the annual Education Cost Index (ECI), calculated by the Dubai Statistics Centre at -2.35 per cent. The ECI is based on statistical indicators that are in accordance with international standards.

In the current academic year, eligible schools were allowed to raise fees anywhere from 2.07 per cent to 4.14 per cent, depending on how their ratings had improved from the previous inspection cycle of KHDA’s Dubai School Inspection Bureau (DSIB).

Mohammed Darwish, Chief of KHDA’s Regulations and Permits Commission, said, “The School Fees Framework prioritises the interests of students and parents and encourages investment in the education sector by allowing schools to develop long-term growth plans, as well as motivating existing schools to improve the quality of education they offer. The Education Cost Index provides complete transparency to both families and investors and balances expectations.”

Over the last seven years, 72 new schools have opened in Dubai and more than 70,000 additional students have enrolled, marking a 31 per cent increase in the number of students attending private schools.

The KHDA School Fees Framework outlines guidelines for schools to increase fees depending on their inspection results and ECI. The ECI of -2.35 per cent means that fees will remain unchanged for the 2020/21 academic year.

Exceptional fee increase

Some private schools may be eligible for an exceptional fee increase based on clear eligibility criteria as outlined in KHDA’s exceptional fee framework guidelines.

Enrolment at Dubai’s private schools increased by 2.9 per cent last year, according to the latest education landscape report released by KHDA.

For the current academic year, schools that maintained their rating were allowed to increase their fees by the same value of the previous ECI -- 2.07 per cent.

Schools whose ratings improved from very weak to weak, or weak to acceptable, or acceptable to good, were allowed to increase fees by twice the ECI, that is, by 4.14 per cent.

Schools whose ratings improved from good to very good were allowed an increase 1.75 times the ECI — 3.6225 per cent.

Schools whose ratings improved from very good to outstanding were allowed an increase 1.5 times the ECI — 3.105 per cent.