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Scholarships and Bursaries in the UAE – Top Schools for Parents 2020
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Scholarships and Bursaries in the UAE – Top Schools for Parents 2020

by Melanie SwanJuly 1, 2020

Background – Scholarships and Bursaries are needed by Parents – and Schools.

Scholarships and Bursaries in Dubai and Abu Dhabi schools - a mixed picture.

Where can parents learn about scholarships and bursaries in the emirates’ schools?

The UAE has 643 private schools offering 18 different curricular choices across a typology ranging from Indian, British and International Baccalaureate schools to those focused on American, Japanese and On-line options.

Choice is one of the stand-out features of UAE Education.

The number of, and breadth of offer from, international schools continues to grow. There is a need to address the demand to accommodate the projected 1.5 million plus school-going population by 2022.

But, access to high quality schools has become harder for parents grappling with rising education costs and limited, if any real terms wage growth.

Something has to give …..

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  • Firstly, the KHDA has responding this year by actively blocking schools from raising fees. More on this can be found here.
  • Secondly, governments across the emirates have built an educational market in which the very highest quality schools are welcomed to open in Dubai and given very high levels of support. The aim is to push standards higher and empower parental choice.
  • Thirdly, as competition has grown, schools themselves have responded by cutting fees and offering discounts, particularly to families willing to transfer from other schools.

Together, the impact has been profound, hard-hitting and hugely impactful.

Competition is intense – and it is widely recognised that this it is a parent’s, as buyers, market. Long gone are the days when parents were at the mercy of school waiting lists and signing up for schools from birth.

The recognition by schools and government is that you can have the best schools in the world, but if parents cannot afford the fees, choice soon evaporates and parents are faced with a market defined by frustration and disappointment rather than aspiration

Equally, schools without pupils, cannot survive.

The final piece of this jigsaw, however, is bursaries and scholarships. Elsewhere in the world, bursaries and scholarships are an integral part of educational systems. In some schools, children with assisted places through scholarships and bursaries can make up to 10% of their role. Scholarships and bursaries are seen as a way of ensuring that schools can attract the best students regardless of their families ability to pay – and it is every child in these schools that benefit. In the UK, for example, even the most subscribed schools, including those like Eton and Harrow, invest deeply in scholarships and bursaries. They are a badge that is worn with pride – and seen very much a statement about schools that invest in their children.

In the UAE, however, we are playing catch-up.

In this market, you might have thought that schools would be stepping over each other to reach out to parents to attract the most accomplished students – or simply the most disadvantaged families with whom education is likely to be most appreciated and invested in.

Nothing could be further from the case – very few schools, in practice are offering scholarships – and none offer bursaries publicly. We do know that schools do offer bursaries privately when the families of existing students run into financial difficulty – but these are not publicised.

 

Why Scholarships? What are they? Are they needed?

Scholarships and bursaries in UAE schools can transform children's lives - both for the recipient and for all children in a school. Why are so few schools in the UAE supporting scholarships and financial help for families?

In a survey of 3,000 families in Dubai conducted by the Dubai-based consultancy Education Intelligence Group and Property Finder, more than six out of ten parents said that they found school fees in the emirates too high.

The survey, which was released in 2019, found that 64 per cent of the respondents received no contribution towards their children’s tuition from their employers.

With most families in the country spending over 25 per cent of their household income on school fees, little wonder that more parents are today looking for alternatives such as home schooling, online education – and even sending their children back home. More on the leading provider of on-line education in the UAE, iCademy Middle east, can be found here.

Scholarships, where they are offered, can provide a lifeline for parents of gifted children. And gifted is defined, in the best schools, very broadly – it could be that child is gifted in the Arts, Sports, academically, the Performing Arts, Music – or indeed in some other area that the school believes could add positively to their school culture, dynamics and environment for existing children. The best schools value a more vibrant, talented and diverse student body – and recognize that the capacity for children to learn from, and be inspired by, other children, is critical to the development of all children.

Perfomring Arts are the lifeblood of Cranleigh Abu Dhabi creating one of the most remarkable whole child environments of any school in the UAE. The school supports talent with an outstanding scholarship programme to attract the best students across the UAE to its school.

Michael Wilson, Principal, Cranleigh Abu Dhabi, believes that scholarship students set a vital example for other students:

“Cranleigh Scholars set a superior level of performance and expectation for other students to emulate. With that comes the momentum that elevates standards across the curriculum and other areas of school life.

This, in turn, creates an exciting ‘can do’ attitude within the community as a whole.

At Cranleigh Abu Dhabi, we are always interested in meeting, and bringing on board, exceptional young people, who are ready for the challenge and inspiration of a Cranleigh education.”

But, sadly, our research suggests that Cranleigh Abu Dhabi is in a minority of elite, very high performing and pioneering schools committed to scholarships as a way of driving their school performance.

 

Schools offering annual scholarships and Assistance with Fees – A Guide for Parents in 2020

The following schools deserve considerable credit for leading the way in scholarships provision in the UAE. It should also be noted, that in most cases following, parents should not hesitate in contacting these schools even if they fall outside the published criteria. If parents can genuinely demonstrate that their child, or children, are gifted in some other way – and deeply committed to education at that school, most of these schools will consider applications for scholarships or some level of fee remission.

1. GEMS Education

GEMS Education welcomes scholarships applications for taleented students across its schools in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the UAE

The UAE’s largest school network, GEMS Education, offers a merit-based scholarship programme for pupils excelling in academics, creative and performing arts, sports, innovation and digital technology or Arabic studies across its network of schools in the UAE.

Candidates receive a concession ranging from 25 to 100 per cent fee remission on their annual school fees for a single academic year, which may be extended based on the pupil’s academic progress on reapplication. Not all GEMS schools, sadly, offer scholarships – and we think they should.

However, GEMS does encourage parents to contact them with their choice of school, and what they believe that their children can offer it.

Scholarship Type Fee Remission Eligibility No. of Scholarships Granted Benefits Application Process and Contact Details
Academic Excellence ●     Students who have consistently placed at the top of their class in all their subjects for at least the last three years.

●     If they have appeared for any international exams and have placed in the top 95th percentile

Available to current and prospective students of GEMS Schools from Year 7 (Grade 6) Scholarship application available online here.
Creative and Performing Arts ●     Students who are passionate artists and performers with grades that place them in the top 70th percentile in their class Available to current and prospective students of GEMS Schools from Year 7 (Grade 6) Scholarship application available online here.
Sports ●     Students who are placed in the top 70th percentile in their class and have consistently played their sport for the last 3-5 years, competing in a) Regional or b) International level tournaments Available to current and prospective students of GEMS Schools from Year 7 (Grade 6) Scholarship application available online here.
Innovation and Digital Technology Awarded on the basis of candidates demonstrating potential to excel in the areas of innovation & digital technology (coding, computational thinking, cryptology, app development. Available to current and prospective students of GEMS Schools from Year 7 (Grade 6) Scholarship application available online here.
Arabic Studies (Native Speaker) Awarded to candidates as a sub-set of Academic Scholarships on the basis of a candidate’s proven outstanding academic achievement in the field of Arabic Studies Available to current and prospective students of GEMS Schools from Year 7 (Grade 6) Scholarship application available online here.
Arabic Studies (Non-Native Speaker) Awarded to candidates as a sub-set of Academic Scholarships on the basis of a candidate’s proven outstanding academic achievement in the field of Arabic Studies Awarded to current and prospective students of GEMS Schools from Year 7 (Grade 6) and are awarded based on a competitive application process. Scholarship application available online here.

 

2. Safa Community School

Scientists of the future experiment at Safa Community School in Dubai. Safa Community School ofers an extensive array of scholarships for students in Dubai for Sixth Form study.

 One of our highest rated schools at SchoolsCompared.com, the British Curriculum Safa Community School has just begun offering a scholarship of up to 50 per cent fee remission on the tuition fee for Sixth Form pupils. More on Safa Community School can be found here.

The Safa Community School Academic Scholarships Programme is creditably open to both existing and new pupils of the school.

Applications are open for pupils excelling in different subjects, but especially in Mathematics, English and the Sciences.

Stephen Duckitt, Principal, Safa Community School, told SchoolsCompared.com:

“Our motto and ethics are driven by our inclusive belief in being a school in which every child is celebrated for, and nurtured in, their individual gifts. Our Scholarships Programme has been designed to build on this, in welcoming children who excel in some way to our school in cases, perhaps, where otherwise fees would prove a struggle for their families. We believe that every child derves and outstanding education – and this is our way of making that belief a reality.”

Scholarship Type Fee Remission Eligibility No. of Scholarships Granted Benefits Application Process and Contact Details
Academic Performance in English, Maths and Sciences  Up to 50% on tuition fee Predicted grades 8 or 9 at GCSE Y12 and Y13 One to one academic mentoring and university preparation programme Applications should be submitted to Mr. Michael Davies, Head of Secondary, here.

 

3. Greenfield International School

Extensive scholarships programmes at Greenfield International School in Dubai attract families across the UAE to its pioneering International Baccalaureate programmes including the Career related Programme

Operated by UAE-based school group Taaleem, Greenfield is a pioneer in the International Baccalaureate – and impressively provides all four of the IB programmes for its children. We have consistently praised Greenfield International School for its innovation in the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme. More on Greenfield International School can be found here.

Greenfield International School currently offers 10 scholarships for its 2019/2020 academic year. The school accepts applications for entry to the school from Grade 5 and above – and particularly welcomes applications from families that are new to Dubai and those currently at other schools in the UAE seeking to enhance the education of their children.

Consideration is given to pupils who have demonstrated high academic achievement and have an exemplary school record.

Scholarships are also awarded to pupils who have displayed extraordinary talent and achievement in the Arts and Sports. Scholarships are reviewed on an annual basis.

Scholarship Type Fee Remission Eligibility No. of Scholarships Granted Benefits Application Process and Contact Details
Academic/ Arts and Sports  Up to 75% on fees Awarded to students who demonstrate high academic achievement and display extraordinary talent and achievement in The Arts and Sports. Limited to Grade 5 and above including those new to Dubai and those currently at other schools within the UAE. Enriching and challenging environment for gifted students Scholarship application and steps online here.

 

4. Repton School, Dubai

Repton School Dubai has been leading scholarships provision across UAE schools.

Repton School Dubai has arguably, and certainly creditably, led the move in the emirates to better recognizing the increasing financial demands on parents by reducing and stabilizing fees. Repton, in our view, also offers a hugely inspirational, genuinely world class education for its students. More on Repton School Dubai can be found here.

The Repton School Dubai Scholarship Programme is open to for pupils from Grade 5 to Grade 8, and International Baccalaureate students in Year 12.

Scholarships for academic excellence, and for excellence in Sports and the Arts, are subject to high standards of behaviour, and students demonstrating and being committed to performance and engagement in academic, musical and sporting activities across the life of the school.

Scholarship Type Fee Remission Eligibility No. of Scholarships Granted Benefits Application Process and Contact Details
Academic/ Music and Sport At 10% of tuition fees Awarded to students who demonstrate high academic achievement and display extraordinary talent and achievement in The Arts and Sports. Limited to Years 5 – 8 Scholarship application and details here.

 

5. Cranleigh Abu Dhabi

Cranleigh Abu Dhabi Scholarships and Bursary programmes extend across school life. Here a students excels in music at a concert in the nation's capital.

As above, Cranleigh Abu Dhabi is an extraordinary, Tier 1 school offering an outstanding education for its students. More information on Cranleigh Abu Dhabi can be found here.

The Cranleigh Abu Dhabi scholarship programme is targeted to talented pupils entering Year 7 and above in fields of academics, Sports, the Fine Arts, STEM and the Performing Arts. Cranleigh’s reputation in the Performing Arts is notable – and children in this area will find a life-changing home at the school.

Selection criteria vary, these depending on the award and on evidence of achievement and potential. All scholarships, however, attract a fee reduction and are merit-based. Top awards will be the full difference between the British branch campus’s fees and the candidate’s current school fees.

 

Scholarship Type Fee Remission Eligibility No of scholarships granted Benefits Application Process and contact details
Academic/ Performing Arts/Fine Arts/Sport/

STEM

Amount offered on individual basis and highest achieving scholarship can match current school fees Top performers with a track record of achievement in a range of subjects or talent areas Based on the calibre of applications received ●     Opportunity to benefit from calibre and breadth of education offered

●     Enable gifted pupils to fulfil their potential within a professional, supportive framework.

Scholarship brochure and application available online on here.

 

 

6. Kings’ Education

Scholarships and bursaries at Kings' Education school in Dubai attract the brightest and best from every part of the curriculum.

Again, it is telling that the UAE’s top schools are pioneering scholarships in the emirates. Kings’ schools are some of the highest performing in the UAE with a reputation for both achievement – and the happiness of their children at its schools in downtown Dubai, Al Barsha and Al Sheba. Our review of Kings’ Schools can be found here, here and here. . 

Kings’ Education offers a limited number of scholarships each year to secondary and Sixth Form pupils based on merit in academia, Sport or the Expressive Arts. The scholarships, which are open to current and external candidates, are worth up to 35 per cent of the annual school fees.

Scholarship Type Fee Remission Eligibility No of scholarships granted Benefits Application Process and contact details
Academic Scholarship Up to 25% of annual fee Awarded on the basis of academic merit Limited for Years 7 through to 12 Discounted fees on wider study material

Mentoring and guidance

Monitoring of academic progress and engagement in extracurricular activities

Scholarship brochure and application available online here.
Art Scholarships Up to 25% of annual fee Awarded for excellence in music, drama and visual arts Limited for Years 7 through to 12 Specialist guidance and advice on creative development

Encouragement to enter local and international competitions

Support to build portfolio

Extended access to school facilities

Scholarship brochure and application available online here.
Sport Scholarships Up to 25% of annual fee Awarded on demonstration of commitment and potential to be elite athlete Limited for Years 7 through to 12 Discounted fees for travel and sports equipment

Participation in sports development programmes

Guidance on performance and conditioning

Monitoring of lifestyle and academic commitments

Scholarship brochure and application available online here.
The Kings’ Scholarship 25% of the annual fee Awarded for consistency in representing the values of the school, contributing positively to school life and being a role model Limited for Years 9, 10 and 12 Leadership mentor

Access to leadership development programmes

Support in developing other talents

Recognition on the school’s Honour Board

Access to international programmes

Scholarship brochure and application available online here.
Tayeb Al Baker Award Applicable for three years of tertiary education Student offered a conditional or unconditional offer to tertiary education Limited to one Year 13 student Annual grant towards the cost of returning to the UAE to lead alumni events

Recognition on the schools Honours Board

 

7. Innoventures Education

Innoventures Education is best known for the Raffles schools and Dubai International Academy. All of its schools now offer scholarships.

Established in 2004 and well known for high standards of academic excellence across its portfolio of IB, UK and American curriculum schools, Innoventures Education recently announced the availability of AED 3 million worth of scholarships. These will be available across all Innoventures Education schools including Dubai International Academy (DIA) Emirates Hills,  Dubai International Academy Al Barsha, Raffles International School, Raffles World Academy and Collegiate American School.

The ACES (Academic and Co-Curricular Excellence Scholarships) programme promises access to world class academic learning and sports training and is available to all nationalities looking for a holistic, rigorous and global education.

ACES offer three categories of scholarships in sport, academic and co-curricular, and Emirati distinction to high achievers with exemplary school records. Scholarships are open to new and existing students eligible for Years 5 to 13 from September 2020 and will be awarded as a percentage of annual school fees.

The offer is our view creditable as the opportunities are not being limited to any single school in the group, this opening scholarship applications to the broadest range of families and children.

Our review of (the in our view outstanding) Dubai International Academy can be found here.

Our review of Raffles World Academy can be found here.

Scholarship Type Fee Remission Eligibility No. of Scholarships Granted Benefits Application Process

and Contact Details

Academic and Co-Curricular

 

% on tuition fee Students must have demonstrated high academic achievement and have an exemplary school record Open to current and prospective eligible for Years 5 to 13 from September 2020 University preparation and Pre-Collegiate Study opportunities at international campuses

 

Access to Mother Tongue programmes

Scholarship application here
Sport % on tuition fee Students must display extraordinary ability and achievement in sport Open to current and prospective eligible for Years 5 to 13 from September 2020 Representing their home country and school at international level

 

Inter-Emirate level athletes

Scholarship application here
Emirati distinction % on tuition fee Students must have demonstrated high academic achievement and have an exemplary school record

 

Registered with KHDA as an Emirati passport holder

Open to current and prospective eligible for Years 5 to 13 from September 2020 University pathways

 

EAL programmes and academic mentoring

 

 

Scholarship application here

 

8. Repton School Abu Dhabi

The Repton School Abu Dhabi Scholarship Programme offers scholarships in four areas:

  • Academic
  • Music
  • Sport
  • Innovation

 The offer for those children accepted onto the programme is a fixed 10% fee remission, which is granted for the duration of the student’s education at Repton Abu Dhabi.

Scholarships at Repton Abu Dhabi are awarded both internal and external candidates who will be in Year 5 to Year 11 in September 2020.

Eligibility is subject to outstanding attainment in:

  • Behaviour
  • Performance
  • Engagement in academic, musical, sporting and innovation activities.

The school is granting a total of 15 scholarships for academic year 2020/2021.

Beyond the financial benefits, Repton School Abu Dhabi, highlights the prestige attached to being awarded the status of “Repton Scholar”. The scholarships directly recognise a child’s achievements and will

  • support student differentiation as they apply to university; and, later,
  • evidence a unique quality on their CV to stand-out in future career employment applications.

Parents of internal and external candidates will be invited to provide evidence of their child’s academic, musical, sporting or innovation ability.

For academic scholarship applications, evidence of ability, such as student academic awards or certificates, GL assessment scores or CAT 4 scores and recent school reports should be provided.  Year 12 scholarships will only be considered for Year 11 students who excel at their IGCSEs.

As part of the selection process, pupils applying may be invited to visit the school for an interview or audition, to demonstrate their ability. The deadline for applications is 1st March 2020. Applications can be made here, or by telephone to +971 (0)2 508 1900. The Repton School Abu Dhabi Scholarship Programme application form can be downloaded here.

Our review of Repton School Abu Dhabi can be found here.

 

9. Hartland International School

Hartland International School is one of remarkably few schools offering scholarships to children in the UAE. The Hartland programme is generous with an offer of up to 100% fee remission acording to the needs and gifts of the individual child.

Hartland International School provides the most generous scholarship package to successful children of any in the UAE. Successful Hartland Scholars, depending on their circumstances and gifts, are offered up to 100% fee remission.

Scholarships are offered for students that are outstanding in one or more of the following four areas:

  • Academic excellence in one or multiple subjects
  • Physical Excellence in Sport
  • Creative excellence in the Arts
  • Community engagement and Service in areas including global citizenship, cultural sensitivity and “making a difference”

Scholarships are offered in two classes:

  • Primary Year applications for children between Year 3 and Year 6
  • Secondary Years applications for children between Year 7 and Year 11

The school is seeking families to apply whose children can also demonstrate passion for what they have achieved whether through their actions, leadership or impact on the world and others.

The application submission deadline this year is 30th April 2020.

A total of 10 scholarship places are available across year groups and each award will be guaranteed for three consecutive years before being reviewed.

Hartland International School welcomes applications from existing and new students.

To apply:

  • Applications should be submitted in writing, personally, by the student;
  • Should be between 300 words and 1,000 words, outlining both their gifts and the contribution they wish to make to Hartlands International School;
  • The application should be supported by evidence that demonstrates excellence in the area of application; and,
  • The application should be delivered personally to the school and addressed for the personal attention of the Principal.

The final decision will be made by the Hartland International School Scholarship Panel, which comprises the Principal, representatives from Hartland’s Senior Leadership Team and a representative of the Governing Board.

Final shortlisted candidates will be invited to discuss their application in person with the panel in early Summer before a final decision is made.

Our review of Hartland International School can be found here.

Bottom Line? The School Compared view on Scholarships

Given the otherwise extraordinary quality of UAE education, a market that increasingly competes with the best in the world, it remains quite extraordinary that so few schools in the UAE offer scholarships programmes. We believe that every school in the UAE should be offering scholarships as a matter of course.

We have, since writing this article, re-contacted schools and will update parents with any new programmes that we are made aware of.

Equally, we also find it extraordinary that no school in the emirates offers information on bursaries – or publishes its openness to helping parents facing exceptional and unplanned, usually short term, difficulties in paying their fees This is generally most likely when parents suffer unexpected redundancy in their employment. We do know that the best schools in the UAE do step in to help parents that are struggling – they just do not want to publicise this. If you are a parent at risk of having to remove your children from school because of financial issues, you should never worry about contacting your school. No good school will want to interrupt the education of an existing child at their school and most schools at these times are compassionate and understanding. Again, we think that every school in the emirates should be proud to publish formally the action they will take, through short term bursaries, for parents facing exceptional difficulties.

Every school above deserves credit. They are pioneers in a sector which is, in this area, lagging a long way behind best practice in the rest of the world. They also include some of the very best schools in the UAE. Our advice is not to hesitate in contacting any one of these schools, even if you fall slightly outside their criteria, if you can demonstrate the exceptional qualities and gifts of your children.

We know from experience that in every area of school life, the best schools are continually searching for exceptional children – recognising the reputational benefits these children bring to schools. More importantly, gifted children can transform the education of other children at a school through aspiration, inspiration and the sense of wonder that they can inject into school life. We know of schools that regularly and actively approach families of children at other schools on the sports field, for example, when they see a gifted child in Sport – and the same holds true in other public areas of school life, particularly in Music and the Performing Arts. In academic subjects, it is far less easy for schools to approach parents directly.

The best schools know too, that providing scholarships are about investing in the artists, sportsmen and sportswomen, musicians, entrepreneurs, academics, actors, scientists, politicians and ballet dancers of the future. They are investing in those children – in every field of human endeavour – that might just change the world and inspire a generation when they grow to young adults. They are building and strengthening their alumni network for future generations too. So why are so few schools contributing to making that difference by providing well thought out, meaningful scholarship programmes as have the schools above ?

In summary, for gifted children, the doors of some of the emirates’ very best schools have never been more open. It is up to families now to walk through them. And the opportunities for these children in improved life chances and meeting their potential – their ability to impact positively on the schools that welcome them and the world to come, are formidable.

We just wish more schools had the courage of their own convictions.

The time to act has never been more urgent for schools and parents……..or inspiring.

© SchoolsCompared.com 2020. All rights reserved.

About The Author
Melanie Swan
Special Projects Reporter on SchoolsCompared.com, Melanie Swan is an accomplished news and features journalist, bringing to her role more than two decade's experience of reporting on what really matters at the coal face of human lives. She began her career at the News of The World, part of News International, in London in 2002, before moving to the Sunday People in 2005. Hired to join the launch team of The National in Abu Dhabi, Ms Swan came to the UAE in 2008, and stayed with The National for 9.5 years. "Where there is an important story in Education that needs reporting,"she told us, "I am there to ensure that SchoolsCompared.com readers get it first."

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