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Rising school fees top online poll

young science

More than 78 per cent of parents disagree with further increases, according to survey

March 11, 2014 10:57 by

The UAE’s education sector is always ripe with discussions and, of late, on approved school fee hikes. In the beginning of February, the Dubai Executive Council allowed private schools to increase fees for the academic year 2014 to 2015, by capping them from five per cent to seven per cent. While some schools may breathe sighs of relief, a latest survey reveals that more than 78 per cent of UAE parents disagree with further fee hikes.

The survey, which was carried out by last month – the Middle East region’s leading financial comparison website – questioned respondents about the current educational environment in the UAE and canvassed more than 650 parents.

Most respondents were parents of either one or two children and a majority was already aware of the Dubai Executive Council’s decision. As anticipated, more than 78 per cent of parents disagreed with a further rise in tuition fees. This is understandable, considering that 91 per cent thought the fees were already high and that an increase would lead to some serious thoughts about the funds being spent on education.

An alarming outcome for schools based on the poll was that 45 per cent of parents would consider changing their kids’ current schools if fees were raised, as that could cause changes in the financial circumstances of many families, thereby disrupting children’s educations. Approximately 33 per cent would consider changing schools only if the increase was significant enough to disrupt their finances and put them in a difficult position. Such results could indicate concerns over the increasing cost of living in the UAE.

When it comes to the standard of education offered by UAE schools, more than 76 per cent of parents claimed that it does not match the fees they are being asked to pay, with 61 per cent rating the education levels as only average.

The Education Cost Index (ECI), created by the UAE government, determines percentage increases in fees. As reported by The National, ECI measures average operating cost of a school and is calculated at 1.74 per cent for the present academic year. This means that, after inspections by the Dubai School Inspection Bureau, institutions rated as ‘outstanding’ can increase fees by 3.48 per cent, those ranked ‘good’ can expand their fees by 2.61 per cent and all of the others that fall below these ratings can raise their fees by 1.74 per cent. The fact remains that these increases are still below the cap set by the Dubai Executive Council, but are needed to help sustain the schools’ operations.

If we take an example of an outstanding school, with average annual fees of AED65,000, a 3.48 per cent increase would add AED2,262 per year per child and, for families comprising three children, that figure comes to 6,786 per year.

As the survey suggests, there is a gap between what parents believe the level of educational standard should be for the price they pay and what schools are charging as tuition fees. With the government taking necessary steps to cap school fees, many UAE parents are concerned about further increases and how it will affect them financially.

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