School fee hike fever rages

DUBAI - The clamour for increase in school tuition fee has reached a high pitch with 45 private schools in the country having already submitted applications seeking a revision of the fee structure by as much as 98 per cent in the new academic year 2005-2006.

By Special Report By Meraj Rizvi And Mohsen Rashid

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Fri 13 May 2005, 10:25 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 8:26 PM

Parents complain of the high cost of education and see profit motive in schools.

"Education is being run like a business. The high tuition fees do not any more justify the services offered at schools," a cross section of parents complained.

They noted that fee hike in the past was not a major issue due to the Ministry of Education's stringent rules which permitted fee hike only in very special cases.

"Despite the number of private schools with high fee structures having mushroomed recently, it has not only become difficult to choose a good affordable school, but, the erratic fee hike imposed each year by the 'upmarket' schools is adding up to the family's financial burden," parents pointed out.

Juma Al Salami, Assistant Under-Secretary of Ministry of Education for private schools, disclosed that 80 per cent of the schools that applied to hike their fees have got the approval to increase the tuition fees between 10 and 20 per cent.

A number of factors have affected the decision making to increase fees, explained several school managements in the country. High infrastructure costs and teachers' salaries besides the increasing inflation are among the reasons provided by most schools in justifying their case.

An official of the Varkey Group's Global Education and Management Systems (GEMS), managing several schools in the UAE, said, the Ministry of Education has approved fee increases for GEMS managed Jumeirah Primary School and the Westminster School in Dubai with effect from September 2005. The increase, she says, includes the cost of additional infrastructure and resources to ensure that the quality of education remains high.

"UK sterling and other currencies have appreciated significantly, increasing recruitment and resource costs and the cost of rent for teachers' accommodation, school buildings, land and construction costs have all risen dramatically leading to a sharp increase in operational costs.

"The fee increases are not aimed at fully compensating for increased operational costs but will help to partially off-set rising costs and will ensure that our ongoing commitment to deliver exceptionally high standards of education is achieved. We are committed to providing high quality education to communities and families and through our Research and Development division we will continue to look at ways in which we can enhance the portfolio of our schools by providing additional schools that offer affordable, high quality education," the official said.

A source at Dubai Scholars Private School which issued a circular recently announcing a 20 per cent fee hike from the new academic year said, a hike was necessary, but refused to elaborate further.

Al Mawakeeb School which will raise fees between 2 and 4 per cent said the hike is not much, but will help offset increasing operational costs of the school.

The Cambridge High School (percentage of hike not confirmed) is another school slated to raise its tuition fees, according to M.A., a parent, who recently enrolled her children in the institution to escape from the high tuition fees levied by her children's previous school in Dubai.

She said the recent circular received from school on the forthcoming fee hike has upset her budget once again. "While no new facilities are added this year at the school, the revision comes as a bolt from the blue. I cannot change the school, as I have recently pulled my children out from an already upmarket school due to our inability to cope with its high fees," she said. "But, with this hike, once again my budget has gone for a toss," the mother said.

Like M.A., a large group of parents voiced similar concerns and expressed hope that the ministry would maintain some check once again reverting back to its old stringent rules where the fee hike was more controlled and not approved easily and frequently by the authorities. Commenting on the fee hike fever that has gripped private schools, Jumaa Al Salami explained that the private education department has adopted an evaluation system applied in the past.

"The system requires schools seeking a fee hike to meet four criteria: school premise should be fit for running the educational process, quality teaching staff and administrative cadres to be maintained, focus on the educational performance of the school and the social service standards offered," Al Salami said.

He said marks are given for meeting each criterion and if a school secures around 70 per cent marks, hike in tuition fee is approved by the Ministry. "Still, a school can increase its fees only after three years from the last increase."

Although, Al Salami believes that the Ministry's evaluation system is not ideal, it is acceptable particularly under the current circumstances in the private education.

Salami said private education system is based on the principle of supply and demand and is an economics principle that the differences among schools come as a result of the total cost of the premises and the teaching staff, besides the administrative staff. "Above all, we should not forget or ignore that private schools are commercial establishments. However, it is important for the ministry to supervise the increase and legalise it according to the international academic standards."

Salami explained that two schools, for instance, whose total cost for construction of premises is approximately Dh50 million but observe a difference in hike of fees, then in such case students and parents should report to the ministry the discrepancies observed by schools in complying with the regulations.

Mahmoud Khamis, Chief of the Licence Department at the Ministry and also the head of the evaluation committee for private schools, said, some private schools which applied for increase in their fees requested for just 10 per cent hike. But, after inspection of the school, we discovered that most of these schools deserved more than they had asked for.

"However, some private schools had requested for an increase more than the maximum limit fixed by the ministry of education (20 per cent) and after inspection we found that they don't deserve this raise. Therefore, we approved the minimum limit which is 10 per cent.

"There are also a number of schools which had requested for increase in tuition fees but did not deserve any increase and therefore their applications were rejected," he said, justifying that the ministry is not erratic in approving the fee hike requests.

He also clarified that most schools that have applied for a fee hike this year are private schools that have either shifted or in the process of shifting to new premises.

The official agreed that the current standard has its shortcomings. Therefore, a memorandum has been raised to add new standards and criteria for the ministry of education in this regard. "I am hopeful that the new standards will be approved soon," he said.

Meanwhile, the increase of fees will be effective next academic year for schools which start in September, while the Asian schools will implement it from next May, he said.


DUBAI - Time was when education was affordable. Time was when the Ministry of Education's stringent rules permitted a raise in tuition fees only in exceptional cases. Not any longer.

With most parents' budgets taking a severe beating, they are at their wits' end. The fee fever has sapped their energy and 'weakened' their savings. They too suffer rising inflation and appreciating currencies. Where do they turn to?

Here's what they say:

Education is now being run like a business.

The high tuition fees do not any more justify the services offered at schools.

The erratic fee hike imposed each year by the 'upmarket' schools is adding up to the family's financial burden.

No new facilities are added at the school so the revision that comes as a bolt from the blue is uncalled for.


DUBAI - Almost 80 per cent of the schools in the city that have asked for a hike in fees have been given the go-ahead and will, from the next academic year, raise the fees by 10-20 per cent.

Here are some of the reasons for the hike in fees that the schools say they have been forced to do.

Help offset increasing operational costs.

Increasing recruitment and resource costs.

Appreciation of UK sterling and other currencies.

High infrastructure costs and teachers' salaries.

Increasing inflation.

increase includes the cost of additional infrastructure and resources to ensure that the quality of education remains high.

Rising cost of rent for teachers' accommodation and school buildings; land and construction costs.

More news from