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Parents question school fees of Dubai private schools


Parents whose kids study in private schools in Dubai have felt that school tuition is not affordable for middle income families

A new education report has revealed that according to them, ‘affordable tuition’ should range between $4,900 and $6,261. More than half of the people surveyed in the report held this opinion.

However, the views of the schools have left several parents in shock as they believe these fees would still create “financial chaos” for families with multiple children.

The Dubai Education Report was released on December 10 by Knight Frank, a real-estate consultancy firm that conducted a survey among education service providers representing 58 large, small, branded and local private schools in Dubai. The goal of the report was to measure affordability beyond monetary value, and examine it within the context of distance or time.

A total of 80% of respondents said tuition fees should be less than $8,984 for Year 1 and 56% believe it should be in the range of $4,900 to $6,261.

For Year 7, 77% of schools said fees should be less than $11,162 and 44% responded as saying it should range from $8,984 to $12,523. Meanwhile, for Year 13, 70% believe tuition fees should be equal or less than $16,335.

The report stated: “The education sector in Dubai is now at a tipping point, with aggressive marketing and tuition fee discounts symptomatic of an oversupply of schools. Pressure is expected to increase with a further 13 schools slated to open this academic year, bringing the total number of private schools in Dubai to 207.

“With this drastic increase in choice, the market is now tipped in favour of consumers who are demanding quality education at lower price points. However, affordability has never been uniformly defined, nor do we know if meeting these demands is possible.”

Parents who spoke to Khaleej Times felt that these prices are not affordable for middle-income families, who are already struggling to make ends meet.

A mother of two, Madeha Tahir, stated: “This will be a big problem. If someone is paying $5,425 just for the foundation stage, for two kids it will be $10,890. Also, in schools, every other day there is some kind of activity and transportation costs are high, which means yearly costs go up to between $13,613 and $16,335 just for two children. If fees are this high, then our salaries should be based on them. Those who want to pay lower fees end up sacrificing the quality of education.”

Another mother of two, Sabah Khalil, stated affordable tuition fees should be measured by calculating the average person’s salary, expenses and what they already pay for their child’s education.

“University fee is more than $10,890, so how can schooling be the same? It’s not affordable. Once you have three kids and by the time they reach higher education, most families leave and go back to their countries. In Dubai, though, there are cheaper schools, such as in Deira, Oud Metha – they’re of lower quality of education but fine. I know lots of people who can’t afford such fees so they send their children to schools with lower fees,” Khalil said.

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