Five Dubai schools that are offering 'sibling discounts'
Two heads are definitely better than one.
The words 'mega sale' may be associated with the retail industry, but fierce competition among Dubai's private schools is witnessing a trend here, with many schools offering 'sibling discounts' as a way of keeping and attracting enrollments.
Come September, Dubai's private schooling sector will add 10 new schools to its already growing portfolio. A move that will see an additional 20,470 seats open up to parents here, many existing schools are now opting to put their seats on sale in a bid to keep ahead of the competition.
Though the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) fees framework regulates how much schools can increase tuition fees by (in accordance with the annual Education Cost Index rate), it is at the school's discretion as to what discounts - if any - they put in place for parents and students.
Since the introduction of the KHDA's 'parent-school' contract in 2015, we have seen a spurt in the number of financial savings promotions from school administrations. But one of the most popular discounts among multi-sibling families is the 'sibling discount' option.
Although not all schools have chosen to implement this offer within their 'fees' section, many have. Just last month, mother-of-two Mariam Al Harmoodi received a letter from her school informing of a 'revised fees' structure. The letter stated it made the move to ensure it remains a "sibling-friendly school", and said it would provide further "discounts for new and existing families".
"The revised tuition fees provide a 10 per cent discount for the first child, 20 per cent for the second and third child, and 25 per cent for the fourth and subsequent children, which can be paid over six installments," it read.
With Al Harmoodi's first child in Year 1 at the International School of Creative Science, Dubai and her second child in FS1, she will now pay Dh33,750 per year for her second child, instead of Dh37,500.
But aside from the financial gains for parents, what are the additional benefits for both schools and parents from school discounts?
Emily Jardine, Reviews Editor for online educational consultancy, WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, told Khaleej Times these schools are introducing such offers as a way to offset the stress parents feel about school fees.
"As parents pay beyond school fees for their child (uniforms, transportation fees etc), sibling discounts are an important way to help families who are committed to a single school. It rewards, in a sense, their loyalty to a school."
Furthermore, she said schools know that parents are the "best advertisement for any school" so to have happy parents who feel like their commitment is being appreciated and recognised means that you have "that many more promoters of your school" out in the community.
With sibling discounts offered for "many years at all Gems schools", a spokesperson told Khaleej Times they were introduced to "lighten the financial load of all students and parents", and this, in turn, has created trust between both parties.
For schooling organisation Taaleem, the economic burden being weighted on parents meant it made sense to give something back to them financially.
"Over 60 per cent (of families) have little or no education allowance from their employers. As a result, we made two announcements for the academic year 2017-18. Firstly, not to implement a fee increase for any of our schools, and secondly to offer new sibling discounts and improved payment terms for our families."
Some sibling discounts
> The Indian Academy Dubai - Second child eligible for 10% discount. Subsequent members will get 25% discount.
> Uptown School - A 10% discount on tuition fees for the third (youngest) and subsequent child in each family for the 2017/18 academic year.
> Kings School Nad Al Sheba - Second child: 5% discount; third child: 10% discount; fourth child or more: 15% discount. (To qualify for this incentive scheme, the children must be already enrolled at Kings' Nad Al Sheba or must enroll for the academic year up to and including September 1, 2019)
> Kent College Dubai - 10% discount applies to the tuition fees of third, fourth or subsequent siblings.
> International School of Creative Science - A 10% discount for the first child, 20% for the second and third child, and 25% for the fourth and subsequent children, which can be paid over six installments.
Note: Offers based on regular annual tuition fees.
Parents say discounts could be better
School promotions may be becoming the norm of late, but some parents here say they are still dissatisfied with what some schools are promoting as "beneficial discounts".
Take Afsheen Azhar for instance. When Khaleej Times asked her if the school her children attended offered sibling discounts, she said yes. But added it was "simply useless".
"My son's previous school offered a discount on the admission of the fifth child, not a fifth family member, it was the fifth child of the same nucleus family. Simply useless."
With her eldest now at a different school in Sharjah and her youngest just two years old, she'll start looking at what discounts apply to him prior to enrolling him in the school. "In my view, a sibling discount should be a minimum of 15 per cent, and it should be given from the very first sibling onwards."
For mother-of-four, Asifa Ali, she currently gets a discount of five per cent on two of her children's schooling fees. "Personally, it's not a great saving. We want and wish that all four of our children availed of a saving of at least 10 per cent on the total annual amount."
Spending about Dh40,000 each year on all four children's schooling fees, Ali said she makes a saving of just Dh2,000 per year with the current sibling discount. However, Sumaiya Adeel, whose three daughters study at the India International School, said she availed of a 50 per cent discount for her third child.
"I think that's a really great offer. We paid the full amount for our first and second child but instead of paying Dh600 a month for our third, we now pay just Dh300." But although she is happy with the discount, she, like many, say the offer should be valid for all siblings.
"I'd like to see offers of at least a 25 per cent discount for the first and second child too. We are investing in the school so they should help us."
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