Schools in Dubai have just been given the go ahead to increase their tuition fees for the 2017/18 academic year. The move has been welcomed by schooling organisations but it has left parents feeling mixed.
The new Education Cost Index (ECI) rate for 2017 is set at 2.4 per cent as per the Dubai Statistics Centre. Eligible schools will now be allowed to increase their fees by between 2.4 per cent and a maximum of 4.8 per cent, based on the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) fees framework.
As per the new fees structure, 'outstanding' schools will be eligible for an adjustment of up to double the ECI (4.8 per cent), 'very good' schools are eligible for up to 1.75 times (4.2 per cent), 'good schools' up to 1.5 times (3.6 per cent), and the rest are allowed an increase equivalent to the ECI per cent. But this all depends on how they fare in their most recent Dubai School Inspection Bureau (DSIB) results.
With 16 schools currently noted as 'outstanding' according to the KHDA's latest schools directory, only time will tell if they manage to maintain that rating, thus qualifying for the maximum 4.8 per cent increase. And according to WhichSchoolAdvisor, that could deliver an extra Dh3.4 million a year for Dubai's most expensive 'outstanding' rated school.
New private schools do not have the right to increase tuition fees for the first three years of operation.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, S.P., father of a JSS International School student, said the fee framework news is something they await each year.
"We have to expect this and now it's a case of waiting to see if the school chooses to increase its fees."
Paying approximately Dh35,000 annually for his child's tuition fees, the school has a 'good' rating which means it is eligible to increase its fees by 3.6 per cent, approximately Dh1,260 annually.
"We are happy with the school and we realise that school's have to generate money too so I'll be fine if they align with the increase."
But for P.R., a mother, whose son attends The Kindergarten Starters in Dubai, the sentiment is different.
Paying approximately Dh8,200 a year for her son's tuition fees, she said if the school was to follow the fee framework, she would have to pay an additional Dh295 per year.
"It is not much but because the school has stayed with the same 'good' rating for several years I don't think it is worth increasing the fees."
Although she said she is "happy with the school" and her son's progress, she feels an increase should only be incurred if the rating level increases.
Will they go for increase?
Clive Pierrepont, director of communications at Taaleem, a schooling organisation, said it will not be increasing fees across most of its network of schools for 2017/18.
"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."
Commenting on schools outside of the Taaleem network, Pierrepont said the ECI will "especially help those with historically low fees" to close their funding gap and "balance their books".
And for Dr Ashok Kumar, CEO of The Indian High School Dubai (an 'outstanding' rated school), the concept and philosophy of the ECI was welcomed.
"(The ECI) efficiently balances the interests of all stakeholders and gives due place to the ratings awarded by the annual Dubai School Inspection Bureau. 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 large scale expansion and continual upgrading of infrastructure and facilities and will not have to turn away disappointed parents in the years to come."
Mohammed Darwish, chief of regulations & permits commission at KHDA, said the ECI "protects parents from arbitrary increases and provides an effective mechanism to balance the expectations of school investors and parents."
How much schools can increase fees by (numbers of schools per KHDA latest directory)
> Outstanding (16 schools) - 4.8%
> Very Good (12 schools, one new) - 4.2%
> Good (57 schools) - 3.6%
> Remaining schools (65+) - 2.4%
15 new schools came up in 2016/17 cycle (they will not be eligible for increase)
30 Indian curriculum schools have already been inspected by DSIB during 2016-17 cycle
Basis of ECI
It takes into account school operating costs, which include teacher salaries, rent, maintenance, electricity and water charges among a basket of other commodities
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