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No School Fee Increases in 2020 – 2021 for Dubai Schools as KHDA Moves to Help Parents and Families
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No School Fee Increases in 2020 – 2021 for Dubai Schools as KHDA Moves to Help Parents and Families

by Jon WestleyFebruary 13, 2020

The Dubai Regulator of Schools, the KHDA, has stepped in to help families by blocking schools from increases to tuition fees for the academic year beginning in September 2020.

In only the most exceptional of circumstances, where a school is faced with closure – and only when it is required to protect children, will they consider an exception. In these exceptional circumstances a school would need to provide the KHDA with full and transparent management and financial accounts disclosing the complete income and expenditure of the school signed by an independent auditor to prove the school cannot proceed without increasing fees.

The decision was reached after a review of the UAE government’s  Education Cost Index (ECI) which stands currently at -2.35 per cent. As it is in a deficit, theoretically schools should actually be reducing fees.

 

 

 

To understand the rules under which fee increases are decided, KHDA guidance can be found below:

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GEMS_INARTICLE

KHDA Blocks fee increases under Fee Framework 2020

 

Mohammed Darwish, Chief Executive Officer of Permits and Compliance Sector, KHDA told us:

“The School Fees Framework prioritises the interests of students and parents.

The framework 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.”

 

The decision follows recent controversy of a family unable to pay their school fees.

Amal Belhasa, CEO of Knowledge and Human Development Policies, KHDA, said to SchoolsCompared.com:

“Schools have a right to receive fees in return for the education provided.

However, as per regulations, schools are not allowed to stop students from completing their academic year or appearing for examinations due to non-payment of fees.

Schools can withhold final examination results and transfer letter until the fees are paid in full as agreed between both parties in the parent-school contract. While parents are usually committed towards their financial obligations, those who need the flexibility must engage with the school and work towards agreeing on a suitable payment plan.”

 

The impact of lower School Fees?

Extraordinarily, as school fees fall in real terms, the quality of Dubai's school is rising - this driven by increasing competition between schools to attract parents.

The approach seems to be working for parents. Last year, enrolment in Dubai schools increased just shy of 3%. Over the last seven years, remarkably, 72 new schools have opened in Dubai. More than 70,000 additional students, a rise of some 31%, have enrolled in Dubai schools over the period.

For parents and students this has meant an exponential increase in school competition and increasing quality of provision for children as schools  battle it out to shine with families.

 

The Verdict from Dubai Schools

“This move will allow parents to continue to support their children to meet their aspirations, while keeping Dubai competitive as a city.

The KHDA has always been very transparent with their approach on fee increases, so the announcement should not come as a surprise to anyone involved.

Schools need to continue to be innovative to ensure that they generate surpluses for the benefit of their respective communities.”

Navin Valrani – CEO Arcadia Education

 

At Capital School our aim is to be the most affordable true British school in Dubai, and we welcome KHDA’s initiative to make the Dubai school market more affordable.

In recent years we have re-aligned our fees to offer more families the opportunity to access excellent British education.  At the same time we have continued to invest in improvements to our facilities: new swimming pools, playground areas, classrooms and teaching and learning resources, just to name a few.

Most importantly, we have heavily invested in recruiting and training the right teaching staff to stay true to our vision of having 100% British teachers.

Finding the balance between improving the school and charging affordable fees is challenging but necessary to ensure an outstanding British Education is accessible for all.

Dr. Pablo Fetter. Chief Executive Officer. Capital School Dubai.

 

The moratorium on the increase of school fees in Dubai will perhaps come as no shock for a number of education providers. The real winners here are our main stakeholders, the parent body and the pupils in our schools.

The Dubai education sector is not the same as it was some 5 or so years ago. The recent report on the education landscape here in Dubai, suggested that there is now a 19% vacancy factor across the board.

This is a completely different story to that of 5 years ago, where there was an under supply of school spaces vs demand and parents were enrolling their children in two or three schools in the hope they would receive a placement in the school of choice – relative to an affordable fee structure.

Since then, in order to ensure parent choice, there has been rampant growth – so much so this has made the Dubai region the fastest growing private schools market in the world.

The once important and genuine Unique Selling Points (USPs) which allowed schools to be differentiated in their offering are now being challenged to deliver because competitive schools have closed this gap.

Kent College, established in 2016, is one of the very few true brand schools in Dubai.

We are not looking to increase fees over the short-term but to increase the value of offering. Since opening our doors, we have maintained a variety of discounts to ensure our offering is accessible to many, last year introduced a number of scholarships and developed a number of key differentiators.

With the recent introduction of our exclusive Performing Arts association with Urdang International, BTEC courses in Business and PE (and other offerings on the way) and the introduction of the IB Diploma in 2021, we continue to maintain diversity whilst offering a quality teaching provision and an extensive after-school activity offering.

Our Board of Governors continue to seek the very best results, the best teachers and maintain a consistent fee structure whilst managing parent expectations and demands and overall costs.

Anthony Cashin. Principal. Kent College

 

At Innoventures Education, we take pride in making decisions that are student and parent centric.

We support this KHDA initiative to not allow an increase in fees in current conditions.

To support our parents, we had already announced that there would be no increase in fees in most of our schools for the forthcoming financial year.

Poonam Bhojani. Chief Executive Officer. Innoventures Education.

 


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About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of SchoolsCompared.com and WhichSchoolAdvisor.com UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at] schoolscompared.com

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