Jul 01 2012
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Students pay average of Dh250,000 in school fees in Dubai
School fees in Dubai increased by 4.5% on an average last year, says KHDA
Even as that sounds rather contradictory - an increase in tuition fees despite there being a freeze on the hike - Dubai's Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has an explanation for it.
"While there has been a freeze on school fees increases, the average has nevertheless risen due to the movement of students to new and existing schools that charge higher fees, a higher proportion of students in higher grades (which tend to attract higher fees), and an increase in tuition fees at a small minority of schools," the KHDA said in a new report on private schools in the emirate.
As it is, the average tuition fee paid by a student at a private school in Dubai last year was Dh17,172 per annum, according to the KHDA. This means that, over a 14-year schooling cycle (two years of Kindergarten plus 12 years in grades), an average Dubai student will pay Dh247,968 (and counting) in tuition fees alone.
With the global financial slowdown still biting into the local economy, this is adding to the cost of living for parents in the emirate, some of whom claim they haven't seen a pay-rise in over four years, but have seen the cost of their kids' education multiply in recent years.
Nevertheless, according to statistics revealed by the KHDA, almost half (47.8 per cent) of Dubai's students pay less than Dh10,000 per year in tuition fees, while about a fifth (18.7 per cent) pay more than Dh30,000 per year.
"In most schools, tuition fees tend to increase by grade level. While 55 per cent of KG1 students pay less than Dh10,000 per year, just 35 per cent of Dubai's Grade 12 students pay less than Dh10,000 per year," the KHDA said in its 2011/2012 report titled 'Private Schools Landscape in Dubai'.
However, KHDA acknowledges the wide variance in tuition fees among Dubai's private schools, with those following the western education system - British, International Baccalaureate (IB) and American curricula - charging much more in tuition fees on an average than those following local and Asian curricula.
"Fees vary considerably between the curricula being offered by private schools. All private schools that follow the UAE Ministry of Education, Iranian, Pakistani or Philippine curricula charge an average tuition fee of less than Dh15,000 per year," the KHDA report states. "Conversely, no IB school has an average fee of less than Dh29,000 per year," it acknowledges.
"Half the students in UK curriculum schools pay more than Dh15,000 per year for tuition," it adds. While that may still be in line with the average, American curriculum schools in Dubai are most expensive on an average.
"In US curriculum schools, 65 per cent [of students] pay more than Dh15,000 [per annum]. By way of comparison, just 10 per cent of Indian-curriculum school students are charged more than Dh15,000 per year while this proportion decreases to 2 per cent for students enrolled in a UAE Ministry of Education curriculum private school," the KHDA report elaborates.
Obviously, education is big business out here in Dubai, with 148 private schools raking in almost $1 billion (Dh3.52 billion) in tuition fees last year.
Of the 148 private schools in Dubai, 32 operate on a not-for-profit or non-commercial basis, and 18 per cent of the private school student population attend these schools.
Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of Dubai's total private school students are enrolled with the 19 schools run and managed by GEMS Education, the largest private school operator in Dubai.
"Dubai's private school sector has underpinned the growth of its economy," said Dr Abdulla Al Karam, Chairman and Director-General of the KHDA. "The skilled expatriate community which has developed the trade, transport, tourism, finance and construction sectors has relied on Dubai's schools to educate its children. The availability of high quality education has been instrumental in helping Dubai achieve its strategic goals," he added.
© Emirates 24|7 2012
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