x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Decree approves rise in school fees

Tuition fees could increase by 30% at some private schools following a decree from the Ministry of Education.

The decree applies to schools that have not put up fees for three years.
The decree applies to schools that have not put up fees for three years.

ABU DHABI // Tuition fees could increase by 30 per cent at some private schools in Abu Dhabi following a decree from the Ministry of Education. Dr Maryam al Ali, director of the ministry's Commission for Private Schools, said only a fraction of the 111 private schools in Abu Dhabi emirate would be allowed the full increase. Although Dr Ali predicted between 25 and 30 per cent of schools would seek significant increases, only between five and 10 well-run schools with good facilities would be permitted the maximum fee rise.

"We are trying to make a balance between the schools and the angry parents who are saying that everything has increased," Dr Ali said. "I think [the decree] is very fair because it gives everybody something. It is based on a study we have done." The decree applies to schools that have not put up fees for three years. Before the decree, the ministry allowed schools to increase fees up to 20 per cent over a three-year period.

Many schools are faced with heavy increases in rents, teachers' salaries and other costs, and insist they have to pass on the cost rises to parents. The ministry will consider issues such as international accreditation, the quality of the buildings and the methods for teacher recruitment when considering fee caps. Each school will be considered individually and most will only be permitted modest increases.

Schools that put up fees two years ago would be allowed increases of 10 to 20 per cent, while schools that increased fees one year ago would be allowed five to 10 per cent increases. Some schools had not put up fees for as long as five years, Dr Ali said. There are 407 private schools throughout the UAE, giving parents plenty of choice, Dr Ali said. "There are so many options if a parent does not want to go to one school, they can go to another."

Despite fee limits, as reported in The National earlier this year, some schools had put up fees by as much as 50 per cent. Increases were heaviest in the earlier years, where schools were most heavily oversubscribed. The decree does not apply in Dubai, where fee caps are decided by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority. During the 2007-08 and 2008-09 academic years, Dubai schools are allowed a 16 per cent maximum fee increase.

Exceptions were allowed for schools with international accreditation, some of which have been permitted to increase fees by more than 20 per cent over two years. The KHDA is keen to give incentives to schools to secure international accreditation as it believes this can raise standards. The KHDA will announce its fee increase cap for the 2009-10 academic year at the end of this year. @Email:dbardsley@thenational.ae