Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 3 August 2020

Dubai schools: A guide to the tuition fee discounts and scholarships on offer

Bright pupils whose parents cannot afford a top school can be entitled to a range of financial support

Several of Dubai’s top private schools offer full and partial scholarship programmes for bright pupils with outstanding performance across all subjects, including art, music or sport.

Many of the more expensive International Baccalaureate and British-curriculum schools in the emirate are now offering more financial support to families who may have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

But how do you apply for a scholarship and what are the other ways to save on tuition fees?

The National explains.

What is the selection criteria?

Just as in universities, schools award scholarships based on a competitive application process.

We have a total of 10 scholarships across year groups 3-6 and 7-11, each year

Ms Fiona Cottam

Academic scholarships are offered to pupils who have consistently shown outstanding performance at their school.

Those who have received a best pupil award in a certain subject/s across the school are likely to have preference.

Appearing for any international exams and being placed in the top percentile will make a child’s application stronger.

For instance, sitting a SAT, a standardised test widely used for college admissions in the United States, a few years earlier than mandated can demonstrate a pupil's ability in maths, English and reasoning.

Any relevant certificates in studies, sports, drama etc should be mentioned in the application form.

Scholarships are also given to pupils who display promise in the visual and performing arts, and for innovation. For instance, a child might have designed a smartphone app and be able to demonstrate it fulfilled an unmet market demand.

Letters of recommendation, also called references, from current mentors, instructors and teachers are desirable.

Mrs Fiona Cottam, principal at Hartland International School, said extraordinary applicants can get a scholarship of 100 per cent for the first year. Courtesy: Hartland International School    
Mrs Fiona Cottam, principal at Hartland International School, which offers 10 full tuition scholarships for talented pupils. Courtesy: Hartland International School

How do I apply?

Schools have a cut-off date for scholarships.

Most applications are processed before July for the academic year starting in September.

Pupils or their parents should get in touch with the admissions office in schools to find out how to apply – and ensure they meet the application deadline.

To apply for a scholarship, pupils need to fill out a scholarship application form.

This should be accompanied by a strong personal letter/statement by the pupil, listing strong points that would make them an ideal candidate.

Pupils must list all their personal qualities and ways in which they believe they can contribute to the school they are applying to.

They must also list their special interests, hobbies or achievements that will make their application stronger.

Copies of the last two years of the pupil’s school reports will need to be submitted with the applications.

The selection process

Getting the application shortlisted is only the first step.

If the pupil passes the first stage, they may be invited for a written assessment, which will include a cognitive abilities test.

The test can vary from one school to another. Some may ask pupils to take a test in English, mathematics and an elective subject of their choice.

This is followed by the interview stage, where pupils could face a panel including the principal, senior faculty members as well as members of the school’s governing body to assess their calibre and commitment.

What do scholarships include – and exclude?

Scholarships can range from 10 to 100 per cent of the tuition fees.

Any education allowance offered by a parent’s employer is usually deducted from the offer amount.

Additional services such as bus fee, uniform, books, excursions and other charges like examination fees are usually excluded from the scholarship.

How long does the aid last and can the school withdraw it?

Most schools in Dubai offer scholarships for between one and three years.

Once awarded, scholarship holders can apply for renewal provided they continue to meet the original criteria.

Scholarships are offered on merit and may be withdrawn if a pupil fails to perform and demonstrate the desired results.

Which schools/education providers in Dubai offer scholarships?

Gems Education: The group offers scholarships under various categories.

There is a central application system of schools under its umbrella.

Academic scholarships are available to current and prospective pupils of Gems schools from year 7, or age 11, up and the application process is competitive.

Scholarships are also available in the creative and performing arts, sports and Arabic.

Hartland International School: offers scholarships for selected candidates.

“We have a total of 10 scholarships across year groups 3-6 and 7-11, each year,” Ms Fiona Cottam, principal at Hartland International School, told The National.

“Each scholarship has a lifespan of three years in the first instance which gives families the security of embedding themselves into our community and really excelling further.

“The application process is considered in April/May of each year. We have always had the discretion to award a scholarship of 100 per cent for year one of the three years, with 50 per cent in the remaining two years for extraordinary applicants.

“Scholarships are awarded to pupils who can demonstrate excellence in one of four fields, academic; creative; physical and sporting or for excellence in matters pertaining to community, civic duty, global citizenship or cultural sensitivity.”

Kings’ School Al Barsha: offers exceptional pupils a discount of up to 25 per cent on its annual fees.

The scholarship is on standard school fees for the duration of the study period (for example, until the completion of GCSEs or A-levels).

The school offers two scholarships – one for GCSE candidates and another for sixth-formers.

For the GCSE scholarship, applications are open to pupils in their final year of primary school onwards for entry to years 7-11 (usually for ages 11 to 16).

It is possible for eligible pupils to join at any time during the first three years of high school, before Year 10, when GCSE courses begin.

Pupils can apply for A-level scholarships in the year they sit their GCSEs.

Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba: the school offers a limited number of scholarships each year to secondary and sixth form pupils of merit and potential. These awards are means-tested and worth up to 25 per cent of the annual school fees.

The programme is open to both current pupils and external candidates.

Kent College Dubai: The school offers discounts of up to 50 per cent of the KHDA-approved fees, for two years. Scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic ability, understanding of Arabic and prowess in sport or the performing arts.

Repton Dubai: scholarships at this British-curriculum school are awarded to pupils in years 5 to 8, or ages nine to 13. They are open to internal and external candidates. Typically awarded at 10 per cent of tuition fees, these are offered for excellence in academic subjects, music and sport.

Updated: July 28, 2020 12:08 PM



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