The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) is cracking down on Dubai schools charging unfair application fees and registration deposits, making it clear that application fees are refundable if a child is not offered a place.
With many parents currently enrolling or re-enrolling their children for the next academic year, SchoolsCompared.com has heard multiple stories of families being charged expensive application fees to attend assessment days or ‘Stay and Plays’, only for them to be told soon after that the school is oversubscribed and no place is available. This practice has also been taking place for many years.
The KHDA, which regulates Dubai schools, has now made a stand against such unfair practices when it comes to new school applications and registrations, publishing a social media post that highlights some key issues parents have been facing. The post clarifies the following points related to Dubai school application fees:
- Schools may charge a Dh500 application fee, but this is refundable if a child is not offered a place at the school
- Schools may ask for a registration deposit for new students only after they have been offered a place, and this is deductible from the year’s tuition fees
- Schools may ask for a re-registration deposit of up to 5% of tuition fees (or Dh500, whichever is higher) for existing students, and this is deductible from the first term’s tuition fees
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Is your child attending a school assessment day or ‘Stay and Playdate’ soon? Find out what to expect from Early Years assessments and how to prepare for them here.
Dubai School Admissions: Everything you need to know about application and re-registration fees
With Dubai school fees representing a large proportion of most parents’ income, families are often shocked to be asked for upfront payments simply to apply for a school – especially when there is no guarantee of a place, so parents might feel the need to apply for several schools at once.
The good news is that, although schools may charge you up to Dh500 to apply to the school, they are obliged to refund you if your child is not offered a place.
But what if you accept a place at a school, but soon afterwards decide you no longer like it, or that your circumstances have changed? The tuition fees could be refundable, depending on how long your child has been attending and the reason you want to leave (news flash: if your school’s inspection rating goes down and you want to change schools as a result, you could be entitled to a refund of the registration or re-registration deposit).
Here’s everything you need to know about Dubai school application and registration fees:
Schools may charge up to Dh500 to process the application of new students. This fee includes standard assessment fees. The application fee is not deductible from the tuition fees. However, this is refundable if the student is not offered a place (it is not refundable if the student is offered a place but declines it).
Schools may ask parents to pay a non-refundable deposit to confirm new enrolment. This deposit is payable only after the student has been offered a place and parents have accepted the offer. The registration deposit cannot be more than 10% of the total tuition tees, and is deductible from the total tuition fees for the academic year.
Schools may ask parents to pay a non-refundable re-registration deposit to guarantee a place for their children for the following academic year. This deposit cannot be more than 5% of the total tuition fees, or Dh500 (whichever is higher) and is deductible from the total tuition fees for the academic year. Schools with terms starting in September can only collect the re-registration deposit after the Spring Break, while those that have academic years starting in April can only collect it after the Winter Break.
Registration Deposit and Admission Fees (applicable to all Dubai private schools)
As well as the conditions mentioned in the parent-school contract, the regulations for fees and deposits for admission and registration are as follows:
- The school may open re-registration anytime during the academic year
- The re-registration deposit should not exceed 5% of the annual tuition fees or Dh500 (whichever is higher)
- The re-registration deposit is deductible from the first term’s fees
- The school cannot ask for payment or any additional fees or deposits other than the re-registration mentioned above
- Schools that begin the academic year in September can only collect re-registration deposit after the end of the spring break
- Schools that begin the academic year in April can only collect re-registration deposit after the end of the winter break
For new students
- Schools can register new students at any time during the academic year
- New schools must have KHDA approval prior to registering students
- The registration deposit for new students should not exceed 10% of the annual tuition fees
- The registration deposit is deductible from the first term’s tuition fees
- If new students enrol at a school during the course of the academic year, the school can charge tuition fees starting from the month of enrolment. (For example, if a student enrols in a new school in the 3rd week of October, the school can charge tuition fees from the beginning of October).
- Schools cannot ask for payment of registration deposit until they have made a formal offer of enrolment. Prior to this, schools can only charge a maximum application fee of Dh500
The application fee of Dh500 is:
- refundable if the school does not offer the student a place
- non-refundable it the school offers the student a place but the student chooses not to take it
- not deductible from the total tuition fees to be paid if the student is offered and accepts a place
Other things you need to know about Dubai school fees
- Apart from the registration or re-registration deposits, schools cannot ask for any additional payment to guarantee student enrolment and re-enrolment
- Schools can only collect annual tuition fees in three instalments, due at the beginning of each term
- The first term’s payment should not exceed 40% of the annual tuition fees; the second payment not more than 30% of annual tuition fees; and the third term not more than 30% of annual tuition
- Schools can also choose to collect annual tuition fees as 10 equal monthly instalments. The monthly repayment amount is calculated by dividing the total tuition fees by 10
- Schools may ask for payment of registration deposit only when students have been offered a place
- The school cannot collect registration/re-registration fees in cases where students leave the school before the start of the next academic year, if these fees were not collected at the time of registration/re-registration. (For example, if a student has not paid the re-registration deposit for the following year by the re-registration deadline, and that student withdraws from the school before the start of the following academic year, the school cannot ask the student to pay the re-registration deposit)
Can I get a tuition fee refund?
In the cases of both existing and new students, the registration/re-registration deposit will not be refunded unless there are extenuating circumstances. These circumstances include, but are not limited to:
- evidence of family/student relocation to another country/ emirate or any other unforeseen circumstances. Such cases may be submitted to KHDA for review.
In the case of refund, the school fees will be calculated as follows:
- Tuition fees paid prior to the beginning of the academic year are refundable and only the registration/ re-registration fees will be deducted
- If the student was enrolled in the school for two weeks or less, a month’s fees will be deducted;
- If the student was enrolled in the school for a period ranging between two weeks and one month, two months’ fees will be deducted
- If the student was enrolled in the school tor more than a month. the full term’s fees will be deducted
- The above refund policy is applicable per term depending on the date of the withdrawal request
- The refund will be calculated from the start of the term and the date of the official request by the parent stating the intent of withdrawal and not from the date when the student was absent.
- Being on the school registrar counts as days in school
- Registration or Re-registration deposits are refundable in cases where a school’s quality rating has dropped and students wish to move to a school with a better rating, as stated in the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau report.
- Book fees are refundable if the student decides to leave the school prior to the beginning of the academic year
- Any provisions in any other policies or approvals will be repealed in the event that they contradict this policy.
Download the new Guidelines to Fair Fees for Parents here.
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