x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

117 Dubai schools apply for fee hikes

Just 29 of Dubai's 146 private schools will not increase their fees for the coming educational year.

DUBAI // Four-fifths of the emirate's private schools have applied to raise their fees.

The Knowledge and Human Development Auhority (KHDA) said that 117 of the 146 private schools in Dubai had applied for hikes in the 2012-2013 academic year. Of the remaining 29 campuses, 17 were not allowed to apply for increases as they had not been in operation for the required three years, and 12 schools did not want to raise fees.

KHDA is allowing fee increases after a two-year freeze. It says it has approved 83 of the requests for fee hikes and is processing the other 34.

Under a new framework that the authority announced in April, all schools operating for more than three years may apply for increases based on their performance in school inspections and an educational cost index based on inflation.

Schools rated outstanding can apply for a 6 per cent increase, while those rated good can raise fees by 4.5 per cent. Acceptable and unsatisfactory schools are allowed a 3 per cent increase. The educational cost index encompasses for the first three percentage points of each of these figures.

However, schools rated good and outstanding can apply for additional increases if they can show the funds are required to carry out infrastructure or facility upgrades - a clause of which many schools appear to be availing themselves.

Not-for-profit and embassy schools may also ask for additional increases.

Yesterday was the final day schools could apply for any increase.

KHDA officials did not specify how many schools had applied for additionl fee increases but said eight such requests had been approved.

Kings Dubai, a school rated outstanding, told parents it had applied for an 18 per cent increase, citing infrastructure expansion. It was granted an increase of 9 per cent.

Indian High School also received an outstanding grade and was granted a 9 per cent increase. "We are improving IT facilities and built a new campus last year which justifies our increase," said Ashok Kumar, the chief executive of the not-for-profit school.

Dubai Modern High School, which operates on the Indian curriculum, informed parents this week that it had been granted a six per cent increase.

"This 6 per cent fee increase is with effect from April 2012," said the letter from the school's principal. Parents have been asked to pay the April and May fees in June.

"You will be happy to know that come September, our students will enjoy training in a second swimming pool and have three new state-of-the-art science labs in place as well," wrote Darryl Bloud, the principal.

A parent of two children at the school was less enthusiastic.

She said parents were bitter because the hike comes very soon after a 90 per cent increase the school was granted when it moved to a new premises in 2009.

"It was a big increase then and any increase now just makes it worse," she said.

She will be paying a total of Dh82,000 annually for her two children this year.

Jonathan Hughes D'Aeth, headmaster of the Repton school, said it was investing in a library, theatre, additional swimming pool and boarding facilities, which required an increase of more than 6 per cent. He did not reveal what increase the school had requested as it had not yet been approved. The school was ranked good in its latest inspection.

"The other challenge is our school is not yet connected by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and runs on generators. Diesel is expensive," he said.

The fees at the school are up to Dh85,000 for day students, or Dh140,000 for boarders.

"We are conscious that parents are paying high fees and have tried to bring a fair balance in our request," the headmaster said.

aahmed@thenational.ae