x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

GCC growth to fuel need for student seats

New business opportunities in the UAE means new families are moving to the Emirates, driving up demand for schools.

DUBAI // With an expected incremental inflow of 300,000 students in the GCC between 2010 and 2015, academic experts have said that growth is not slowing.

“At the moment, the region is increasing in population both because of its own growth and the influx of people from outside,” said Ralph Tabberer, the chief executive of the UK management and consulting services company Better Broader Deeper Education.

“The increase is about 30 per cent from 2010 to 2020. That’s a region that’s growing and expanding, and creates challenges for governments and lots of opportunities for business.”

New business opportunities means new families coming in from the east and the west, driving up the student numbers.

“It’s a prospering region at a time when the world is facing austerity,” he said. “But the number of schools will be a real issue.”

There is increasing pressure from the community for more school seats.

“The expatriate population has limited access to public schools and is largely dependent on private schools to educate their children,” said Tareq Zeyad Al Ameri, the manager of promotion and business development at Abu Dhabi Education Council. “This adds to the required need to offer more private school seats.”

The private education sector in the region was valued at US$36 billion (Dh132bn) in 2010 and that number is expected to reach $90bn by 2020.

“What will happen is the public education system will expand but the private sector will expand more quickly,” Mr Tabberer said. “People will see a continuation of a growing number of private schools, more choice and investors will have opportunities in the market.”

He said quality of education would remain the key element in ensuring the success of schools.

“Those people who can contribute good schools with high quality will thrive,” Mr Tabberer said.

cmalek@thenational.ae