Private school consultancy Gabbitas has plans for Dubai

London consultancy moves into the UAE with a management deal for four schools in Dubai.

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A private school consultancy has set up in Dubai with starting plans to manage four colleges in the emirate.

London-based Gabbitas Educational Consultants will manage the schools with investment from an entrepreneur based in Dubai.

The British curriculum schools – two primary and two secondary – are due to open between 2016 and 2019 with an investment of Dh500 million from Mohan Valrani.

A primary and a secondary school will be located in Jumeirah Beach Triangle that will eventually take in 1,200 students while the remaining schools will be in Al Furjan development near Jebel Ali with 1,600 students.

The UK consultancy, which will be managing schools for the first time, expects to have one teacher for every 20 students. Recruitment will be done from the UK and locally.

Besides Dubai, Gabbitas is also advising investors in the private education sector in Abu Dhabi, Qatar, China and Central Asia.

The company opened an office in Dubai from where it will advise parents on private schools for children in the UAE as well as support for university admission in the UK and the US. It will also offer guardianship service for overseas students at UK boarding schools.

“Whenever the child is not at school we will look after them, for example their travel needs, translate academic reports, or have a family to go when the school is not running and they are not coming home,” said Ian Hunt, the managing director of Gabbitas. “We also advise families who are looking to move children into the UAE or from the UAE into British schools.”

It can cost between £500 (Dh3,093) and £3,000 per term for guardian services, and university and school placement assistance can begin with £250 for the initial consultation and go up to £8,000, depending on the service.

Private education is a growing sector in the UAE with gross revenue from tuition fees alone estimated at Dh4.7 billion from the past academic year at Dubai’s 158 schools.

With the number of students growing at 8.2 per cent from last year, and school fees rising fast, it is only expected to become more profitable.

Of the private schools in Dubai, 59 follow the British curriculum supporting 78,936 students, according to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority’s Dubai Private Education Landscape 2013-14 report. The UK is also a popular destination among Emirati students for higher education.

Nearly 3,000 Emirati students are enrolled at higher education institutions there, according to Edward Hobart, the British consul general to the UAE.

Mr Valrani is also the business partner of Abdulla Al Shirawi, who runs Dubai-based Al Shirawi Group with interests in printing, electronics, manufacturing and trading.

ssahoo@thenational.ae

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