Dubai: Dubai’s private schools can hike fees ranging from 2.4 per cent to 4.8 per cent next academic year (2017-18), depending on their inspection rating, the emirate’s school regulator said on Sunday.
The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) said the Dubai Statistics Centre (DSC) has set the new annual Education Cost Index (ECI) at 2.4 per cent.
According to KHDA’s Fees Framework, outstanding schools will be eligible for an “adjustment” of up to double the ECI; very good schools are eligible for up to 1.75 times the amount; good schools are eligible for 1.5 times the amount; and rest are allowed an increase equivalent to the ECI.
The ECI takes into account school operating costs, which include teacher salaries, rent, maintenance, electricity and water charges, among a basket of other commodities.
For this school year, 18 private schools have been deemed “outstanding” by the KHDA. For the current school year (2016-17), the ECI had been set at 3.21 per cent, it was announced in February last year.
An Indian parent whose two children attend an outstanding school said the new ECI was still too high. “My salary, like that of many other residents, hasn’t increased for the past few years; the economy isn’t heating up as fast as before; so why increase fees?” said Sahil. DSC says on its website that the overall inflation rate is 2.91 per cent.
He said he would be paying around Dh480 extra next academic year in tuition costs, if his children’s outstanding school increases fees by 4.8 per cent (double the 2.4 per cent ECI).
Taaleem, one of the UAE’s biggest education providers operating around nine UK, US and IB-curriculum schools, had already decided not to increase fees irrespective of the new ECI.
Clive Pierrepont, director of communications at Taaleem, said: “After listening closely to our parents and being aware of the increasing financial pressures many families are facing, we made two announcements in November 2016, for the academic year 2017-18. These were, firstly, not to implement a fee increase irrespective of this year’s announcement of ECI, and secondly to offer new sibling discounts and improved payment terms for our families. These announcements were warmly welcomed and appreciated by our community and were offered to most of our Dubai schools.”
He added: “We are pleased that the ECI will help other Dubai schools, especially those with historically low fees to close their funding gap. Many of the low fee schools are advised, after inspection by the [KHDA], to increase or consolidate their rating, they must invest more in technology, significantly improve their facilities and improve the quality and the training of their staff. This requirement for improvement often requires very substantial investment. [Sunday’s] announcement will help those schools that have long served the community, to balance their books.”
Dr Ashok Kumar, CEO of Indian High School, which has been rated outstanding for six straight years, said it was possible the school may increase fees in line with the ECI.
“The ECI is a scientific guideline for fee increase by schools. The cost index takes care of all the concerned stakeholders and is hence a valid and reliable tool to measure and justify percentage of increase in fees.
“Indian High School steadfastly maintains its tradition of an excellent quality of education at the lowest fee structure in the region. We are, in fact, midstream in the process of a large-scale expansion and continual upgrading of infrastructure and facilities, and will not have to turn away disappointed parents in the years to come,” he said.
Mohammad Darwish, chief of regulations and permits commission at KHDA, said the KHDA fees framework balances the concerns of parents and schools. He said: “Schools can adjust their costs in line with the fees framework which takes into account the quality of education offered at private schools in Dubai. It protects parents from arbitrary increases and provides an effective mechanism to balance the expectations of school investors and parents.”
School inspections are structured around six performance standards, which reflect an overall performance judgement, by the inspections framework. The fee framework has been applied for the past five years.
New private schools do not have the right to increase tuition fees for the first three years of operation.
Box: School fee hike limit for 2017-18 year
School rating Maximum fee hike
Outstanding 4.8 per cent
Very Good 4.2 per cent
Good 3.6 per cent
Acceptable 2.4 per cent
Weak 2.4 per cent
Very Weak 2.4 per cent
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