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Students at Delhi Private School, Sharjah, after the end of spring break last week Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: There has been a surge in school admissions in Dubai by nearly five per cent for the new academic term, according to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). According to a recent statement issued by KHDA, Dubai private school admissions have topped 300,000 for the first time ever. A total of 303,262 students have been enrolled in Dubai’s private schools — up from 289,019 in September 2021.

While schools following Indian curriculum opened for a new academic year and saw an increase in enrolments, schools affiliated to other international boards also attracted more applications and enquiries ahead of the new academic year opening in September.

Dubai currently has 215 schools providing 18 curriculum choices. Gulf News spoke to some of these institutions in Dubai to understand the reason behind this surge in admissions.

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Pupils heading to class at Delhi Private School Sharjah Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

‘Joy is doubled’

The Gulf Model School recorded 1,040 new admission for its new academic year. Shiny Davison, the academic director of Gulf Model School, said the institution recorded the highest-ever admissions this academic term.

“This year we are also celebrating our 40th year of service and our joy is doubled with the enormous increase in admissions for the new academic year. In the last two years, during the pandemic, the school saw a rise in the movement of students. However, with admissions beginning in the month of January 2022 for the new 2022-2023 academic year, there has been a surge in admissions. We now have a total strength of 1,040 new pupil enrolments for the new academic year,” Davison said.

“As an expatriate teacher residing in this country for 26 years, I feel this is a phenomenal target to achieve. The numbers are high in kindergarten and upto Grade 8,” Davison added.

Why admissions surged 

“Some families have returned to the UAE, following the economic boom around Expo 2020 Dubai. Many parents who sent their children home to cut down on educational costs are now getting them back. Salaries of a lot of employees have returned to pre-pandemic levels and that has been a major reason for students coming back to UAE for their studies.”

She added that another contributory fact has been the nation’s role in defeating COVID-19 and making the UAE a safe place to live and work. Ultimately, families look for safety.

A spokesperson for GEMS Education also said that its Indian curriculum schools in the UAE have seen a six per cent year-on-year increase in enrolments. The GEMS Education international schools (comprising non-Indian curriculum schools) have recorded a 70 per cent increase in Term 3 new enrolments, compared to the same period last year.

The rise in school enrolments also reflects Dubai’s growing attractiveness as a lifestyle, business and investment destination, which has encouraged families from across the world to relocate to the city.

Families making future plans

Sarah O’Regan, principal and CEO of GEMS Wellington Academy — Silicon Oasis in Dubai, said the school had seen an increase in admissions for the new term. “We strive to know more about our families and they are telling us that they are now in a position to make future plans for their children’s education. Feeling secure with their jobs and opportunities for international travel once again opening up have made a huge difference,” O’Regan said.

She added that many parents are now returning to the UAE after leaving the emirates temporarily during the pandemic. Most families have enjoyed their time in the UAE and could not wait to return. “In some cases, parents are returning to the same companies they had worked for previously. This has meant an increase in admissions at schools,” she added.

O’Regan further said : “Our partnership with Emirates airline has meant that we are seeing families re-join the school or recommend colleagues for admission. We have also seen an increase in families moving to the UAE to start their own business.”

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‘Strong sense of safety and wellbeing in UAE’

Punit M.K. Vasu, CEO of The Indian High Group of Schools in Dubai, said the institution has always seen very healthy enrolment numbers and a strong waiting list.

Punit M.K. Vasu

“We offer high-quality education at one of the most affordable fee structures across the region. Having said that, recently, we have seen a lot of parents benefit from increased employment opportunities in the market and a lot of positivity during and post Expo 2020 Dubai. During the pandemic, we offered need-based admissions to many so that they could continue to remain in Dubai even without jobs and are still offering bursary support to a significant number. Many parents who moved recently indicated that access to quality health care and the success of the nationwide vaccination drive had given them a strong sense of safety and wellbeing in the UAE," he added.

“The market has picked up the narrative on the benefit of enrolling with a not-for-profit community group of schools like ours as we chose not to increase our tuition fees in spite of being eligible to apply for an increase. The Government of Dubai has also invested heavily in creating a vibrant residential cluster in Dubai Silicon Oasis and this has meant that a lot of families moving into that catchment area prefer to enrol with our DSO branch. The lifting of COVID-19 restrictions on school tours has been welcomed by all and enrolment officers can once again have bespoke interactions with potential students. All these factors jointly create a very favourable ecosystem for healthy enrolment trends across The Indian High Group of Schools."

‘Record-high number of new enrolments’

Naveed Iqbal

Naveed Iqbal, principal of GEMS Metropole School, said: “The school is looking to grow further and we plan to include hundreds more families into our school’s community for the next academic year. This has already started with a record-high number of new enrolments this year. We are looking forward to a life beyond COVID-19 as protocols have become easier to manage over the last few weeks.”