x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Deadline for opinion on fee increase

Parents of pupils at Dubai Modern High School have until Sunday to voice their opinion on the school's proposals to raise fees.

Parents of students studying in the Dubai Modern High School during the silent protest against a school fee hike.
Parents of students studying in the Dubai Modern High School during the silent protest against a school fee hike.

DUBAI // Parents of pupils at Dubai Modern High School (DMHS) have until Sunday to voice their opinion on the school's latest proposals to raise tuition fees as part of a plan to stay on its current premises. They have been enraged by a proposed 90 per cent increase in fees, which the school said was forced on it by a move to a new site. Earlier this week its owners, Global Education Management Systems (Gems), told parents by e-mail it might be possible to stay at the current site for the next academic year but that a smaller fee increase - 25 per cent for the coming academic year and 16 per cent for the next - would be necessary to cover rent and teachers' salaries.

It asked parents to vote online for paying higher fees at the existing site, or backing the move to new premises currently under construction at Nad al Sheba. On Wednesday, after a meeting between parents and the senior management of Gems, a second circular offered a revised fee proposal, a 20 per cent increase this year and 20 per cent for the next. The e-mail said that while the school was willing to sacrifice the move to the new building if that was what parents wanted, the relocation to the Dh240 million (US$65m) campus could still happen. After the Sunday deadline the school will formulate the response and pass the result on to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).

"To stay on the current site the school is dependent on the landlord lifting his notice to vacate and making an acceptable rent agreement with us, and on KHDA approving the increase," the e-mail read. But the KHDA has indicated that such approval is unlikely. Mohammed Darwish, chief of licensing and customer relations, said on Tuesday that the school had only two choices: to stay on its present premises, at the present fee structure, until it moves to the new site "where they can apply the new permitted increase of 90 per cent over two years", or stay put and be subject to the KHDA's school fee decision, which will be announced shortly and will be applicable to all private schools.

The school, which uses an Indian curriculum, has been a focus of attention since January when it announced a 110 per cent fee rise for some parents that it later lowered to 90 per cent. Gems said the school was forced to relocate because of an eviction notice by the landlord. The fee proposal was supported by the KHDA but outraged parents. Following several protests and the formation of a 14-member committee representing the 1,300 parents affected, news on Monday that the landlord might revoke the eviction order gave parents fresh hope.

A meeting on Tuesday between Darryl Bloud, the school principal, and parents left both sides optimistic with a resolution apparently in sight. But with the saga continuing, one despondent father said: "It is going nowhere." loatway@thenational.ae