x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

GEMS increases fees at five schools

Schools operator GEMS is increasing tuition fees by 10 per cent a year for three years.

DUBAI // The schools operator GEMS is increasing tuition fees by 10 per cent at five of its schools as part of an agreement reached with the Ministry of Education last year.

The ministry confirmed yesterday that the 2010 agreement allowed an increase of about 10 per cent every year for three consecutive years.

Normally the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) is responsible for approving applications by schools in Dubai to increase fees.

The ministry's deal overruled an earlier judgment by the KHDA, which had banned schools in Dubai from raising fees on the ground that increases would be unjustified in a tough economic climate.

Two education providers were granted the increase. GEMS went on to increase tuition as much as 15 per cent in 2010 and will be allowed to raise fees again in 2012.

Fee increases will be introduced in five schools, including Our Own English High School, Dubai; Our Own English High School, Sharjah and Our Own English High School, Sharjah (Boys).

The increases will take effect from the start of the new term in April.

"Our older schools, which offer high-quality education at a lower fee level in comparison to much more expensive, newer Indian schools, are struggling to be self-sustaining," a GEMS spokesman said. "A restructuring of fees is required to sustain the level of academic success that both our parents and GEMS expect."

Sunny Varkey, the GEMS chairman, gave similar reasons for seeking a fee increase last year, and he threatened to close down old Asian schools because they were not viable.

A GEMS circular sent to parents recently said the increase would fund more professional development programmes for teachers.

"Our education priorities are based on the inspection reviews by the KHDA," the circular said. "The average fees at new Indian-curriculum schools are far greater than our schools even after the fee increase. We will continue to provide a quality education at a much lower price than these new providers."

aahmed@thenational.ae