Now Reading
Almost one quarter of UAE parents pay over Dh55K on school fees – but how does it compare with education costs abroad?

Almost one quarter of UAE parents pay over Dh55K on school fees – but how does it compare with education costs abroad?

by Tabitha BardaNovember 21, 2021

Almost one quarter of Dubai parents pay more than Dh55,000 on one child’s school fees every year, according to new data released by the emirate’s schools’ regulator, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).

An official KHDA infographic stated that 22% of Dubai private-school students attend schools with fees of Dh55,000 or more, while 9% of those pay Dh75,000 or more.

Perhaps more surprising though – given the perception of Dubai as a premium destination – is the fact that 42% of students pay under Dh18,000 to attend school each year. The remaining 14% pay between Dh35,000 and Dh55,000.

The cost of Dubai education relative to the rest of the world

Although the number of zeros involved in sending a child to private school in Dubai might seem steep, it offers value when compared with the price of equivalent education in other parts of the world.

By far the most popular curriculum to study in Dubai is the British curriculum, with 80 British-curriculum schools in Dubai out of 251 schools all together.

However, the cost of a private-school British-curriculum education in Dubai is generally lower than the equivalent private-school education in the UK.

At the top end of the range, famously premium British boarding schools such as Harrow and Eton are more than Dh215,000 per year to attend.

In contrast, the average cost of education at a premium British-curriculum Dubai school such as Brighton College is just under Dh100,000 (although they do not offer a boarding option, whereas Harrow and Eton only have boarding places.)

Brighton College UK, a co-educational day and boarding school which achieved the UK’s 5th best A-level results in 2021, is Dh139,600 for day attendance (£26,310)The cost of an IB education at ‘premium-plus’ priced GEMS World Academy is between Dh94,652 and Dh114,128 at secondary level, while similarly premium North London Collegiate School in the UAE ranges from Dh92,000 per year in Grade 7, rising gradually to 104,000 in Grade 11 and 12.  This is on a par with its UK-based sister school, NLCS in the UK (an all-girls’ school), where fees for the senior school are Dh104,609 (£21,147) per year throughout.

When it comes to academic performance, Dubai’s academically elite schools also offer value.

St Paul’s Girls’ School – which consistently comes in the top few spots of the UK’s exam league tables each year and had 87.5% of its students achieving A* grades at A-level in 2021 – is around Dh140,000 per year (£28,389).

Meanwhile the academically selective Dubai College – which saw 81.29% of its students achieving A or A* results at A Level in 2021 – is Dh82,482 per year.

There are also a whole raft of reasonably priced yet premium schools in Dubai – such as Safa British School (Dh29,262 for FS1 up to Dh50,000 for year 8) and GEMS FirstPoint School  (Dh40,183 – Dh68,734) which offer an outstanding standard education at great value when compared with international equivalents.

Shedding light on Dubai’s schools

The recently published KHDA report offers – in addition to information on school fees – an overview of the current state of the education sector.

Other highlights include the fact that 215 new schools have opened in Dubai in the past three years, and that Dubai registered a 3.5% increase in the number of pupils going to private school – skyrocketing from 279,191 in the autumn of 2020 to 289,019 this year.

The KHDA infographic ‘Growth, strength and possibility in Dubai’s private school education sector’, 2021/22 – Autumn Edition


Dr Abdulla Al Karam, Director-General of KHDA, said: “Growth, strength and possibility have long been hallmarks of Dubai’s private school sector. The growth in student enrolment shows the confidence that parents have in the ability of Dubai schools to provide high-quality education in all circumstances. The sustained development of the emirate’s school sector reflects the energy, resilience and dynamism that Dubai has been able to maintain.  Consistent with the Expo 2020 theme of opportunity, our education sector continues to offer families and investors new possibilities.”

The infographic also contains some other illuminating tidbits – did you know that 48.8% of Dubai school teachers are under the age of 40 for example? Or that the Dubai district with the greatest number of schools is Deira (53), followed by Mushrif (41 schools), then Hadaeq Mohammed Bin Rashid (36 schools) and Jumeirah (20 schools)?

The KHDA infographic ‘Growth, strength and possibility in Dubai’s private school education sector’, 2021/22 – Autumn Edition

Also featured in the infographics are figures from the KHDA parent survey conducted this year, completed by more than 70,000 parents. According to the survey, 87% parents said they are satisfied with the quality of education their children receive in Dubai.

Key Numbers from Spring Edition of KHDA landscape report:

  • Total number of schools in Dubai – 215 schools
  • Total number of students in Dubai – 289,019 students
  • Total number of Emirati students in Dubai schools – 30,515 students
About The Author
Tabitha Barda
Tabitha Barda is the Senior Editor of Oxbridge educated and an award winning journalist in the UAE for more than a decade, Tabitha is one of the region's shining lights in all that is education in the emirates. A mum herself, she is passionate about helping parents - and finding the stories in education that deserve telling. She is responsible for the busy 24x7 News Desk, our Advisory Boards and Specialist Panels - and's The School's Report - the global weekly round up of what matters in education for parents which is published every Friday, reviewing schools across the UAE - and features on issues that really matter. You can often find Tabitha on Parents United - our Facebook community board, discussing the latest schools and education issues with our parent community in the UAE - and beyond.

Leave a Reply