Private schools in Dubai will not increase fees for the 2021-22 academic year, the emirate's education regulator said on Monday.
This is the second consecutive year that fees for Dubai schools have remained steady.
Aparna Sharma, a mother of two girls, 11 and 5, at Gems Wellington International School, said the announcement came as a big relief during the pandemic.
“I’m very relieved to hear this. All of us have gone through so much in the last year that we needed this relief,” she said.
“Nobody wants to compromise on the education of their children. Freezing the fees this year will really help each and every parent who is trying to survive at this moment.”
But parents hoped schools would protect teacher salaries.
“I'm happy that the fees are not increased but I hope the schools will cut from their profits, not from the costs,” said Clementina Kongslund, a Romanian resident of Dubai, and mother of two children.
“We want happy teachers and for the teachers to be paid well.
“Not having a fee-increase helps families like ours so we can plan our budget better, and do not have to face surprises.”
Zoe Woolley, head of Repton School Al Barsha, said the fee freeze was a “wise decision by the KHDA at this time.”
“We have actually gone further, by reducing fees by 10 to 16 per cent across from the foundation school and into the senior School.
“This was achieved by applying economies of scale across the UAE Repton family of schools.”
Gems Education confirmed to The National that they will not increase fees at any of their schools in Dubai.
“We follow the directives and guidance of the government regulators in all matters concerning tuition fees,” said a Gems Education representative.
“In Dubai, increases are determined by the Education Cost Index, and schools are only able to raise fees with approval from KHDA. We will follow the official guidance that has been issued.”
The announcement by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority was prompted by results of the annual Education Cost Index, calculated by the Dubai Statistics Centre at minus 2.35 per cent.
The index is calculated annually by the Dubai Statistics Centre based on the operational costs of Dubai's education sector, which may include school workers' salaries, rents, maintenance, and electricity and water costs.
The index together with a school's performance is used to decide the hike in its annual fees.
Schools in Dubai are rated by the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau on a six-point scale, from very weak to outstanding.
Schools that improve their ratings from very weak, weak or acceptable to the next category may hike their fees at twice the ECI.
Those that improve their performance from good to very good may hike it by 1.75 times the ECI. Schools that improve from very good to outstanding may hike their fees by 1.5 times the ECI.
Those that maintain their ratings can increase their fees by the same factor as the index while schools that see a drop in their performance ratings are not allowed any hike in their fees.
Mohammed Darwish, chief executive of the regulations commission at KHDA, said: “This announcement shows Dubai’s commitment to ensuring that the private school sector continues to deliver value to parents, investors and school operators."
Additional reporting by Georgia Tolley