UAE schools receive flood of late admission requests as academic year starts

Back-to-school surge under way as some parents dash to secure places

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - September 04, 2018: Tour of a the new Dunecrest American School by principle Bill Delbrugge. Tuesday, September 4th, 2018 at Dubailand, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Schools across the UAE received a September surge in applications for places as families return from summer breaks and new facilities open their doors.

The start of the new academic year sparked a flood of late registrations. One school reported a 50 per cent rise in requests.

In Dubai, 173 schools welcomed pupils back to their classrooms on Sunday. Another 13 schools will open this Sunday.

Young students in Abu Dhabi returned to the capital's 200 private schools on Sunday.

Michael Wilson, headmaster at Cranleigh Abu Dhabi, said his school is close to its capacity of 1,300 pupils but added he saw a significant increase in the number of admissions requests.

“In the last 24 hours, we have had 13 new registrations,” said Mr Wilson.

“We had a flood of enquiries at the beginning of August and we have had another spike 48 hours ago.”

At the school, 99 per cent of pupils are back at their studies after the holidays.

GEMS Founders School Al Mizhar said it was dealing with 70 live requests at the moment.

Credence High School in Dubai, which teaches the Indian CBSE curriculum, enjoyed a "considerable increase in the number of admission enquiries, and close to 100 children are joining the school this year," said Principal Deepika Thapar Singh.

She believes its modest fees and good rating by Dubai's education body, along with a desire by Indian families to give their children a grounding in their country's education system ahead of a return home, may have helped boost its popularity.

"I'm expecting the trend to improve and we feel things are looking brighter.

"This increase in admissions is not usual for us. There has been a 50 per cent surge in admission enquiries this year."

Bill Delbrugge, headmaster at Dunecrest American School in Dubai, said applications are rolling in ahead of the school's opening next week.

Marta Topornicka, director of admissions at Taaleem, an education provider in Dubai, believes the back-to-school stampede is normal because some parents leave admissions to the last minute.

"There is a rush of new applications this week. Many Taaleem schools are already at capacity.

"Sometimes, the father comes in early and starts looking around but the mother comes later and wants to review. Sometimes, you have families coming in quite late and they have been contacting schools before they move. They go through the process of admissions when they arrive. Hence the influx at this point in time," said Ms Topornicka.

Henning Fries, the chief executive officer at Bloom Education, operators of Dwight School Dubai and Brighton College Abu Dhabi and Dubai, said: "Since both schools have officially opened their doors this week, we have seen a spike in parent enquiries, which is fantastic.”

Dwight School Dubai currently has a capacity of 464 pupils and will be home to up to 1,368 pupils in the next five years. Brighton College Dubai has capacity for 484 pupils, a figure which will rise to 1,820 over the next five years.

Clive Pierrepont, director of communications at education provider, Taaleem, said: "Our full and growing schools are very much in demand, but we have seen many more families leave Dubai and Abu Dhabi than in previous years, due to relocation and change of jobs. The enquiries in August were slower than last year but this was mainly due to the timing of Eid al Adha in August.

"Since the Eid holiday, we have seen many more families return to the Emirates and new families arriving just in time for the start of term.

"We are still busy processing hundreds of applications and have achieved over 99 per cent of our target enrolments across the whole group."

Quick guide to finding a new school

Parents who have just landed in the country first need to pick a curriculum and are advised to look for schools in their local area.

The next step would be to call schools and find out if they have seats available in the particular class.

Parents also need to find a school within their budget and then check those schools.

Deepika Thapar Singh, principal, and chief executive officer of Credence High School in Dubai, said the school immediately organises a tour and sets up a meeting with the child. The child may have to appear for a test. Many schools also accept online applications.

"We don’t want the child to miss out on school time, so we try to complete the admission process immediately so that the child can start school the next day," said Ms Singh.

If the pupil doesn’t have an Emirates ID, Dubai's education regulators Knowledge and Human Development Authority are informed and an approval is sought so that the child may begin school.

Parents are asked to get the documents within a certain deadline.

Marta Topornicka, director of admissions at education provider, Taaleem, advised parents to look for good schools in their area.

"Check their websites and if you like what you see, go over," she said.

"It’s often about what feels right. Visiting the school is crucial," she added.

If the parent doesn’t have an Emirates ID they can still for apply for admission as they have a 30 day grace period to secure the documents. The child can attend school in the interim.

Admissions can take as little as a day with the child starting school the next day.