College students hit hard by fee policies

DUBAI - Students under the sponsorship of accredited higher education institutions in the UAE are being weighed down by the institutions' policy that requires them to pay tuition fee for, either a full year, or the entire semester in advance, in addition to the payment of a mandatory deposit and annual visa charges.

By Meraj Rizvi

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Published: Wed 28 Jul 2004, 9:50 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:49 PM

Students complained that higher education in the country with its steep fee structures is becoming increasingly expensive and beyond the reach of many expat students from the low and middle-income groups. Further, such policies by the institutions that force students to pay fees in advance in addition to payment of large sums as deposits, is burdening parents who are being forced to shell out large sums of money at the beginning of the academic year.

"Why this discrimination," they ask, disclosing that students, not on the institution visa, are allowed to pay tuition fees either on a monthly basis, or, for entire semester through post-dated cheques.

However, university officials claim that the practice of accepting tuition fee in advance from those students under the institution visa is primarily to protect the university from the immigration rules. "We charge a deposit of Dh3,000 at the time of admission, in addition to advance payment of at least six month (one semester) tuition fee to protect the institution in case the student on our visa absconds."

"In case of an absconding student, the institution is forced to pay the immigration authority an absconding fee to ensure the student is deported when found," Kamal Puri, Dean of Skyline College, said.

A source at the American College of Dubai (ACD) also voiced similar views on advance payment of tuition fees. "Students on ACD visa have to pay advance tuition fee for a full semester," the source said. "Besides, the deposit amount, which is refunded once the student graduates or has plans to leave the college, is only to ensure the seriousness of the case seeking sponsorship," he explained.

But, students representing several universities and colleges in Dubai and Sharjah complained that under the circumstances, it is becoming increasingly difficult to live with their families and pursue higher education in the UAE. The local authority should review the institution policy and help us with a convenient payment structure of tuition fees."

A student studying at the University of Wollongong in Dubai said he was forced to pay tuition fee for the entire year in advance, in addition to a Dh5,000 deposit and visa charges for a year. He complained that since the residence visa in the UAE is issued for a three-year period, "I fail to understand why the college charges me fee for visa renewal every year."

Another student seeking enrolment at Skyline College in Sharjah, said: "It is extremely difficult to pay a large amount of money at one go to study at the college. I was previously on an employment visa while studying at the Skyline College, but I lost my job recently, and was forced to take up the college sponsorship."

The student noted that the college has agreed to cooperate with him, but, "I don't know how to manage payment of at least a three-month tuition fee in advance, along with the deposit amount of Dh5,000."

A student of the same college disclosed that two years ago, at the time of admission, his parents paid Dh15,000 as tuition fee for one semester along with a deposit amount and visa charges for a year. "The practice is not new, but, the authorities should look into it and help students and parents from being bogged down under such pressure,” he said.

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