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Parents Express Discontent as Dubai Permits Private Schools to Hike Fees by 5.2 Per Cent

Schools with lower ratings will not be eligible for fee increases: Here are the criteria

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Ismail Meladi

Published on April 4, 2024, 09:07:42

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uae, school fees, Dubai, schools, children, education

School fees increasing by 5.2 per cent in Dubai, at a time when people are yet to recover from the negative economic impact of Covid-19, has shocked parents. 

Due to the decrease in income and job losses, many expat families were forced to send their children back to their home countries in search of affordable education. For those expats who survived the economic backlash, the new fee hike will jeopardise their family budgets further.

Private schools in Dubai have been granted permission to increase their fees by up to 5.2 per cent, with adjustments based on their performance in the latest annual inspections conducted by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).

Notably, schools that received lower ratings will not be eligible for fee increases. The Education Cost Index (ECI) for the 2024-25 academic year has been set at 2.6 per cent by the KHDA, serving as the basis for schools to revise their fees. The rate of increase is directly linked to the inspection rating of each institution, with any fee adjustments requiring approval from the KHDA. 

"The decision of KHDA to allow schools in Dubai to increase the fee up to 5.2 per cent has literally irked the parents at a time when the living costs in Dubai are already on a high pace. This will be a boon to school managements and will set a precedent to make unjustifiable increases every year," said Preethi Ranjit, an erstwhile teacher and a parent of a grade 11 student.

Preethi Ranjit

"If this increase is allowed each year it will seriously affect the family budgets of many of us. Already RERA index on rents has been affecting the accommodation expenses. Now KHDA's ECI index will throw another hurdle in front of the parents. The fee increase, irrespective of high fee or low fee schools, is happening when salaries of the parents remain the same," she said.

"School fee is the biggest nightmare for an expat family. A family with two or three children are compelled to spend the majority of its income on children's education. This rude shock comes at a time when we are yet to recover from the negative economic impact occurred due to Covid-19," said Azi, who works as a manager in a real estate company, whose children are studying in Grade 11 and KG 1.

Azi

"The fee hike has even put the annual vacation travel plans of many of us in jeopardy, especially for those families in which only one of the parents is working," said Rojin Pynummood, who works as a sales manager in a private company.

Rojin Pynummood

"Parallel to the increase in school fee, the transportation fee charged by the schools has also shown an upward trend. People can manage these extra expenses only if the salaries are also enhanced proportionally," he pointed out.

Here's How the Calculations Break Down:

  • Schools improving their rating from 'Weak' to 'Acceptable' or from 'Acceptable' to 'Good' can raise fees by up to double the ECI, totaling 5.2 per cent.
  • Schools advancing from 'Good' to 'Very Good' are entitled to an increase of up to 1.75 times the ECI, equating to a maximum of 4.55 percent.
  • Schools upgrading from 'Very Good' to 'Outstanding' can increase fees by up to 1.5 times the ECI, reaching a maximum of 3.9 per cent.
  • Schools maintaining their current inspection rating are permitted a fee increase of up to 2.6 per cent, corresponding to the ECI.

Education Cost Index

The Education Cost Index, formulated in collaboration with the Digital Dubai Authority, is derived from the annual audited financial statements of private schools in Dubai. It reflects the operational costs of school management.

This marks the second consecutive year in which schools are allowed to adjust fees, following a freeze spanning three years (2020-21, 2021-22, and 2022-23) due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In the preceding academic year (2023-24), schools could raise fees by up to six per cent.

Shamma Al Mansouri, Director of Permits at KHDA, emphasised: “Aligning fee adjustments with schools' inspection ratings underscores the quality of education while enhancing sector competitiveness.”

She further highlighted the transparent and scientifically-driven methodology employed in monitoring and analyzing financial statements to ensure continuous improvement and sustainability within the private school sector.

During the previous academic year, over three-quarters (77 per cent) of students were enrolled in schools rated 'Good' or higher. Enrollment in Dubai private schools has surged by 12 per cent since the previous academic year, with more than 365,000 students attending 220 institutions offering 17 different curriculums.

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