Dubai: Parents have welcomed Monday’s announcement to freeze fees in Dubai private schools for the second year in a row, saying the decision will help families cope with financial uncertainties in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Some schools also supported the move, promising no compromise in education quality and services offered. The announcement was made by Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) on Monday.
Education Cost Index
The announcement follows the release of the annual Education Cost Index (ECI) calculated by the Dubai Statistics Centre, which measures annual changes in the costs of running a school, including salaries, rent and utilities. The ECI for this year stands at -2.58 per cent. Since the index is negative, there won’t be a fee increase.
‘Such a relief’
Nausheen Shamsher, a parent whose daughter attends a British school in Dubai, said the hold on fees has come as “such a relief”. She added: “In a situation like this, where financial commitments keep wavering, this is a blessing. The UAE government has always been a step ahead to deliver value to parents, and the recent announcement is a testament of the government’s resilient and considerate measures. The education landscape in the country is very robust and I am confident that this will not affect the schools in any way. It only gives parents like me more confidence in the country’s fair and dynamic policies.”
‘Weather the challenges’
Another parent, Hashim Guinomla, whose children go to a Filipino school, said: “Being a parent to three children, this will help us weather the ongoing economic challenges that the world is facing. In addition, this will also ensure the continuity of our children’s education in the coming years.”
Samina, a mother-of-three in Dubai Investment Park, whose children are enrolled in a UK school in Dubai, said the announcement came as “no surprise”. She added: “After last year’s freeze on school fees, I was expecting the same decision for the coming academic year. Business costs generally are down these days, and so are people’s salaries in many cases. I think it is only fair and wise that fees are held steady in this climate, with the pandemic still creating uncertainties in the market.”
‘Repaying parents’ loyalty’
Even before the KHDA announcement, Taaleem, one of the UAE’s leading school groups, had already said its schools would not be increasing fees. Taaleem CEO Alan Williamson said: “After a difficult and challenging year for all, we fully understand and support this decision made by the KHDA. Our investors are acutely attuned to the economic and National Agenda of the UAE; hence Taaleem made an early announcement to freeze tuition fees well before any regulatory announcement was made.”
He added: “Our parents have shown incredible loyalty over the past — and very trying — 12 months. Their support has been humbling and extraordinary, and we wished to repay this loyalty by not increasing any of our fees for the next year.”
No impact on operations
Taaleem has shared their news with its parent community, who were “greatly appreciative” of this early announcement. Williamson said: “The fee freeze will not affect our planned operations or expansion projects as we had already set our budget on a zero-percentage rise in fees. Our students’ high-quality education is paramount to Taaleem’s mission and we will continue to increase our investments to this end.”
Never increased fees
Deepika Thapar Singh
Deepika Thapar Singh, CEO-Principal of Credence High School, said the school has not increased fees ever since its founding. She added: “Credence is a parent-friendly school and keeps the interest of the parent in mind while planning its policies. We have not increased our fees ever since our inception, i.e. for the last seven years, even when we had multiple opportunities to do so. The recent school fee announcement by KHDA has not had any impact on our operations or future plans and we will continue to give our best in giving quality education to the children.”
Following official guidance
A GEMS Education spokesperson said: “GEMS Education schools follow the directives and guidance of the government regulators in all matters concerning tuition fees. In Dubai, increases are determined by the Education Cost Index, and schools are only able to raise fees with approval from KHDA. Accordingly, we will follow the official guidance that has been issued.”