More than a dozen private schools in the UAE are offering discounts and have restructured fees to help families still struggling with the economic effects of the pandemic.
Some schools in Dubai have cut what they charge by 30 per cent to 35 per cent in an attempt to retain and attract new pupils.
Ten new private schools are expected to open in Dubai during the 2021-2022 academic year, increasing the number in the emirate to 220 and creating 15,000 new school places. More than 286,500 pupils study at private schools in the emirate.
Nabil Lahir, chief executive of Leams Education, which runs four schools in the UAE, said the group had decided to offer discounts of between 10 per cent and 22 per cent at its schools.
“This is because of the Covid-19 situation – the aim is to help parents," Mr Lahir said.
"Things have improved a lot this year but some families are still struggling. There has been a revision in the market as salaries, overheads, and profit margins have gone down.”
Leams Education will open doors at The Apple International Community School in Karama in the new academic year with more than 100 pupils enrolled, although it can accommodate close to 300.
“We were planning to open the school in September last year, but we had to postpone. People were stuck in their home countries at the time,” Mr Lahir said.
The school group ran surveys to measure how families had been affected by the pandemic and decided to offer discounts ranging from 19 per cent to 22 per cent this year.
Normally annual fees for pupils in foundation stage one are Dh18,500 ($5,037), and pupils in year six pay Dh21,000, so parents can expect to make savings of Dh3,500 to Dh4,000 per year.
Mr Lahir said the new fee structure has proved popular and some parents have transferred their children from more expensive schools.
Schools offering tuition fee discounts
- Renaissance School in Dubai Sports City – 35 per cent discount
- Al Shola Schools Group – 30 per cent discount on tuition fees
- Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai – Founder’s concession of 20 per cent
- The Apple International Community School – 19 per cent to 22 per cent off tuition fees
- Cedar School in Dubai – 15 per cent discount in first year, 10 per cent in second year and 5 per cent in third year
- Smart Vision School in Dubai – 5 per cent to 10 per cent discount on tuition fees
- International Indian School in Abu Dhabi – 25 per cent to 35 per cent discount
School discounts have become common in the Emirates during the past few years with some schools offering up to 50 per cent reduction on tuition fees to attract pupils.
Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai (RGS Dubai) will open doors and welcome pupils aged three to 11 this year.
The school announced a 20 per cent discount for pupils who enrol in the 2021-2022 academic year, and those who enrol for this September will get the discount for three years.
Pupils will also get free uniforms in their first year, as well as two extracurricular activities included.
Fees at the school start at Dh60,000 for foundation stage one pupils and go up to Dh77,600 for pupils in year six.
The impact of Covid-19
Craig Lamshed, principal at RGS Dubai, said: “As a new school opening in Dubai, we created a founder’s package designed to give back to our new community, especially in these times of uncertainty.”
Renaissance School in Dubai is offering a 35 per cent discount to existing and new pupils in the current academic year. Pupils who enrol in kindergarten to grade five will get a 35 per cent discount until they reach grade six.
Fees after discount at the school range from Dh22,750 in pre-kindergarten to Dh35,750 in year six.
Cedar School, which will open its doors this year, is committed to giving families a 15 per cent discount this year, a 10 per cent discount next year, and a 5 per cent concession the year after.
International Indian School has reduced the fees it had approved by the Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) by 25 per cent to 35 per cent.
This discount means, for example, that parents of children in grade one pay Dh10,500 a year, although the Adek-approved fees were Dh14,300. Pupils in grade nine, meanwhile, are charged Dh11,500, although the school could have charged Dh18,400 for the year.
Supporting parents with lower fees
Al Shola Schools Group, which runs five schools in Sharjah and Ajman, are offering 30 per cent off tuition fees.
They started offering a 20 per cent discount on annual fees last year but decided to continue the scheme in 2021 with additional discounts.
“We started the move to show solidarity with parents due to the repercussions they suffered because of Covid-19, and decided to continue with our discounts,” said Ibraheem Barakeh, director of Al Shola Schools Group.
He said they have always had discounts for high-achieving pupils and siblings, but last year they decided to help parents by extending these reductions to all pupils.
“Our decision has nothing to do with losing pupils or wanting to attract new ones, it's purely a translation of what is constantly repeated by educational institutions about how parents are partners," he said.
“How can we prove that, and ensure that it's not just a slogan, if we didn’t come up with decisions that respond to the needs and circumstances of parents."
Last year’s discounts of 20 per cent amounted to more than Dh20 million, he said. The school's groups had 9,350 pupils across various institutions.
“Planning ahead for this academic year nearly four months ago, we saw how people were still suffering so we decided on a 30 per cent discount for all of our pupils, the existing and the new ones," he said.
Reductions currently offered by the school range between nearly Dh1,600 to Dh4,600 from kindergarten to grade 12.
Rewarding loyalty with reductions
Repton Al Barsha announced the reduction in its tuition fees for the 2021-2022 academic year in November last year. Fees for pupils in foundation stage one to year six were reduced by up to 16 per cent.
Parents of children in senior school have also been offered discounts of about 15 per cent for existing parents and 10 per cent for new parents.
Collegiate American School has been renamed Collegiate International School after it introduced the International Baccalaureate primary years and middle year programmes ahead of the new academic year.
The school has cut its fees by an average of 25 per cent since last year. This year, fees range from Dh33,000 to Dh60,000.
Bruce Major, superintendent at the school, said the institution's authorities decided to change the fee structure in response to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, as well as to attract pupils.
He said that like other schools, they had some pupils move back to their home countries during the pandemic or move schools as families sought lower-fee institutions.