UAE school group decides not to increase fees, despite KHDA allowance

The Indian High Group of Schools told parents that keeping education affordable was key to its decision

Pupils at the Indian High School in Dubai's Garhoud area. Its management has chosen to freeze fees, at a time when many schools are set to unveil increases. Pawan Singh / The National
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The Indian High Group of Schools will not increase its fees for the next academic year, although it has government permission to raise them by up to 3 per cent.

In a letter to parents, Punit Vasu, Indian High Group of Schools' chief executive, announced that despite increasing operational costs and inflation rates, the group has decided to freeze tuition fees for the academic year 2023-2024.

“We are — exactly as we did last year — yet again choosing to keep school tuition fees as is this year, maintaining status quo,” Mr Vasu said in the letter.

He emphasised the group's commitment to affordable education.

“We strongly believe it is imperative to support all our stakeholders in ensuring they have continual access to world-class learning without having to face the added pressure of an increase in tuition fees,” Mr Vasu said.

The Indian High Group of Schools, which has three campuses in the emirate, is a non-profit group licensed by the Community Development Authority — Government of Dubai, and as a result it is entitled to apply for a fee adjustment greater than three per cent.

The group also highlighted its continued investments in technology, including interactive learning panels in all classrooms, and subsidising curriculum enrichment programmes and after-school activities.

“We do believe that you understand the magnanimity and generosity of the board of trustees in remaining steadfast in their support for learners and their parents, in ignoring yet another opportunity to justifiably increase school fees,” Mr Vasu said.

Big relief for parents

Parents with children in Indian High Schools have welcomed the news.

“Whenever there is a fee freeze, it is a big relief for parents,” said Sheharzad Abdullah, an insurance professional and a mother of three.

Ms Abdullah’s daughter Aaisha is a Grade 8 pupil at Indian High School Oud Metha, while her other two boys — Rahil, Grade 12 and Eisa, Grade 2 — attend private schools in Sharjah.

Sheharzad Abdullah and her husband Aboobaker Siddiqk with their three children Rahil, Aaisha and Eisa

“We pay Dh1,800 plus Dh1,200 as a monthly fee for both boys. Aaisha’s school is the most affordable at Dh750 a month,” said Ms Abdullah, who is a former pupil of the same school in Oud Metha.

“Affordability and quality are the main factors that matter to parents. Indian High School is the best option available in Dubai on both counts.”

She said a 5 or 6 per cent fee increase this year as allowed by the KHDA would have been an additional drain on their income.

“We also have to pay for the school bus and other expenses. It is a big chunk of the income set aside for kids’ education,” she said.

“We are happy that the school is not going ahead with a fee hike this year.”

Abbas Iqbal and his wife Ayshath have three children - Nuha, Grade 4, Zidan, Grade 2 and Nairah.

Abbas Iqbal, who has three children attending the IHS Garhoud branch, said the decision is in the best interest of parents. His daughter Nuha is in Grade 4 and his son Zidan is in Grade 2.

“My youngest daughter, Nairah will start her kindergarten in April this year. That is three tuition fees starting this year,” Mr Iqbal said.

“School education is expensive in Dubai and for parents who have two or three kids, that is one of the biggest long-term financial responsibilities.”

In addition to paying nearly Dh2,500 on tuition fees for his three children, Mr Iqbal said he also pays a Dh300 transportation fee for each child.

“I am the only working parent and keeping aside Dh5,000 at least for kids’ education is a big deal for many middle-income families,” he said.

“Living expenses in Dubai have gone up and many families are facing rental increases too. A school fee increase at this point would have been an added burden.”

On Friday, officials announced that some Dubai private schools will be allowed to increase tuition fees by up to 6 per cent in the 2023-2024 academic year.

Regulator the Knowledge and Human Development Authority said operational costs and the economic situation in the emirate were factors in the decision.

Tuition fees for Dubai's private schools have been frozen for the past three academic years.

The regulator said only schools which maintain or improve inspection ratings would be allowed to increase fees.

Fee increase guidelines

  • Schools that maintain their inspection ratings will be eligible to raise tuition fees by up to three per cent.
  • Schools that improve their rating from “weak” to “acceptable” and from “acceptable” to “good” can increase fees by up to six per cent.
  • Schools that move from “good” to “very good” can increase fees by 5.25 per cent.
  • Schools that improve from “very good” to “outstanding” can apply a 4.5 per cent rise.
Updated: March 27, 2023, 5:08 AM