Survey was released by www.whichschooladvisor.com Image Credit: Illustrative purpose

DUBAI Over 16 per cent of expatriates in the UAE have their children’s school fees paid by their companies, a new survey by an educational online consultancy has found.

The results of the study, released by www.whichschooladvisor.com last week, said families sending their children to Indian curriculum schools are the least likely to have company help, while UK/IB schools are the least likely to have parents that pay everything themselves.

James Mullan, consultancy co-founder, told XPRESS: “In 2013, we declared the expat package on its last legs. But in 2015, we can say it is proving remarkably resilient, and still very much here - for a select and rarefied group.

"Sixteen per cent of our respondents now have their school fees paid by their company, up three percentage points since 2013.”

High earners

He said: “Just over five per cent of respondents in the Dh11,000-Dh15,000 income bracket have their school fees paid by their company, while over a quarter (27 per cent) of high earners (Dh70,000 and above), get the tab picked up by their company. The expat package is alive and well - for the world of senior management, within select industries.

“The result is an increasing division between employees. For those in the Dh11,000-Dh15,000 income bracket, almost 50 per cent claim over one-fifth of their income goes to schooling, while just 25 per cent of higher earners spend that much. This will increasingly put pressure on regulators to ensure that all income groups can afford schooling in the UAE, and that quality education remains accessible to all,” he added.

Significant variation

The survey found that Abu Dhabi at 18 per cent remains the emirate where expats have the maximum chance of having the school fees paid, followed by Dubai at 16.4 per cent and Sharjah 11 per cent.

There is also a significant variation by curriculum. Families sending their children to Indian curriculum schools remain the least likely to have company help. “Eighty per cent of families in Indian schools completely looked after fees themselves while the figure stood at 46.4 per cent in UK/IB schools.

Mullan said: “Those who can afford the best the UAE has to offer tend to have a much higher appreciation of schools, believing they get as good or higher standard of education than in their home country. Those who struggle view schools more negatively - not just in terms of the value of fees, but across the board - colouring how they see academic quality, facilities, teaching ... even in the same school.”

According to him, this is more than just perception. “How much money you have changes the school in an almost linear fashion. The more you earn, the more likely you are to be sending your child to a higher performing school.”