By: Francesca McGeary

School fees are always a hot topic with most parents in Dubai. With continued rising expenses, there is a great deal of pressure on many families to find the money to pay for their children’s fees. Of course, there are still families with available funds who opt to enrol their children in higher fee-paying schools for a variety of reasons; however, the number of families who are feeling the pinch on their budgets is increasing.

Previously in Dubai, there were shortages in school places across many schools in the city and this demand enabled schools to set higher price points. The tides have now turned and last year there was an over-abundance of new schools opening. This not only meant more choices for parents but also that many of these new schools were able to offer ‘founders’ discounts or add more value to their services. For example, Arcadia Preparatory School, a new British school in Jumeirah Village, offers all students a 30% discount on school fees for their entire school career (up to Year 6) at Arcadia as long as they join or enrol their child for future years in this 2016-2017 academic year. Included in the fees are 4 sets of school uniforms per child (summer, winter, PE, plus choice) as well as enrollment into 4 extracurricular activities per term. The school offers parents the option of paying the annual school fees by 10 monthly post-dated cheques and this can be a very attractive incentive for families.

The top fees for Western-style schools here can reach beyond AED 100,000 although the average maximum price for secondary tends to be in the AED 70,000 range.  In the table below, you can get more of an idea in the range of school fees for many of the ‘lower-priced schools’ including some of the more popular schools amongst British expats.

 

SchoolSchool SystemMinimum FeeMaximum Fee
Arcadia Preparatory (FS1-Yr 4)British42,000* discount if enrolled prior to 2 June, 201748,300 discount if enrolled prior to 2 June, 2017
Deira Int’l School (FS1-Yr 13)British, IB38,32877,222
DESC (Yr 7-Yr 13)British74,21979,772
DESS (FS1-Yr 6)British34,00042,078
Dovecote Green Primary School (FS1 – Yr6)

 

British42,00048,000
Dubai College (Yr7-13)British77,70087,984
Dubai Int’l Academy (KG1-Yr 13)IB38,31867,893
English College (Yr 7-13)English49,76459,619
GEMS Jumeirah Primary School (FS1-Yr 6)British38,20248,155
GEMS First Point (FS1-Yr 12)British38,00065,000
GEMS Metropole (FS1-Yr 10)British33,00044,000
GEMS Royal (FS1-Yr 6)British32,67242,456
GEMS Wellington Primary

(FS1-Yr 6)

British40,79651,422
Greenfield Comm. School

(KG1-Gr.12)

IB41,44176,315

 

Horizon School Dubai (FS1-Yr 6)British39,27452,610
Hartland Int’l School (FS1-Yr 8)British49,75076,000
Jebel Ali School (FS1 – Yr 8)British43, 14883,000
JESS (FS1-Yr 13)British, IB DP39,00091,000
Jumeirah College (Yr 7-Yr 13)British68,23385,291
Oaktree Primary School (FS1 – Yr6)British35,00050,000
Ranches Primary (FS1-Yr 6)British45,00055,000
Safa British School (FS1-Yr 6)British27,00040,000
Safa Community School (FS1-Yr 13)British47,00080,000
Sunmarke School (FS1- Yr13)British44,90072,900
Uptown School (Pre K-Gr 12)IB45,00075,500
Victory Heights Primary (FS1-Yr6)British34,50047,200
New Schools opening in 2017
Dubai Heights Academy

(FS1-Yr6)

British37,57049,640
British Columbia Canadian School (KG1-Gr6)Canadian35,00054,000

* not including assessments, or additional costs like uniforms, transport fees, etc.

Most schools also offer a sibling discount which parents should enquire about during their initial enquiry or school tour and this is usually around 5-10% for a second or third child, and as an example, Sunmarke School offers a sibling discount of 5% (1st sibling), 10% ( 2nd sibling), 15% ( 3rd sibling) and 20% (4th sibling).

Aside from some Indian schools and Arcadia Preparatory School, there are limited options when it comes to making smaller, monthly payments for school fees, unfortunately. However, GEMS and NBAD do offer a credit card which can be used to make monthly payments and which also has additional benefits like lifestyle discounts, air miles and a school fee cash-back incentive. Standard Chartered Bank also has a Titanium credit card which offers up to 10% cash back (capped) for participating schools. This may be an option for parents who cannot afford the larger, lump-sum payments each term but be careful though as you may be charged an added % to the fees by the credit card company, so make sure to clarify if this is an option you wish to pursue.

But what happens if parents get stuck in a bind and cannot, for whatever reason, come up with their school payments? Will their children be prevented from attending school? According to the KHDA website, a school cannot suspend or expel a student without authorization from KHDA and they “do not support action which would disrupt a child’s learning during the school year.” This means they would essentially mediate between the school and the parents by trying to find a solution to the situation.

Parents interested in finding out more about these particular schools should get in touch directly with them to find out about their availability and their admissions process. In any case, while school fees are certainly a factor in the decision-making process, I would encourage you to visit schools and get ‘a feel’ for the school.  See whether its values and philosophy match your family and will your child fit into the school and make friends?  Does it have a culture that fits your child?  Most schools host tours and open days and this can be a way to help you better understand their approaches.

Francesca McGeary is an educational consultant and helps parents to understand schooling and education in Dubai through her website, www.schoolsDXB.com. She can be reached at Francesca@ingenioused.com 

Read more: Standard Chartered Bank up to 10% school cash back on selected schools

Read more: Up to 7% discount on advance payment of GEMS school fees

Read more: Schools – Getting the right fit for your child