x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Most private schools hold fees steady

Average fee increases will be 12 per cent but only in 60 schools in the capital.

ABU DHABI // Two thirds of private schools in the capital will hold their fees to the current rate for the next academic year, authorities have announced.

The Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) said yesterday 121 of the 181 private schools in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Gharbia will not lift charges for tuition, books, uniforms or transport.

Another 20 schools had their request to increase tuition fees denied, although it was not clear from the Adec figures whether they would be raising charges for books, transport or uniforms.

For the 60 schools that applied for rises in one or more of the four areas, transport charges will go up by an average of 12.3 per cent.

"The approved average [tuition] fee increase is about 6.6 per cent across the 60 schools," said Brian Fox, the head of licensing and accreditation at Adec.

The authority has yet to release the full list of increases at individual schools, but did say one school had asked to increase its tuition fees by 208 per cent, although Adec had already indicated that would be denied.

Mr Fox said the increases were approved according to several financial and performance factors.

"It depends on any planned improvements and investments that the school needed to fund, and whether there were clear efficiencies that the school could make," he said.

Past increases and the ability of parents to afford any rises were also taken into account.

Some of the 60 schools also asked to increase charges for books and uniforms, with one school looking for an extra 339 per cent for books. It was not clear from Adec's figures whether that was granted.

The release of the new fees comes considerably later than last year. Adec said that was because many schools had been found to be overcharging for books, transport and uniforms.

Mr Fox said Adec had also found deficiencies in the financial management of several private schools.

School were asked to warn parents of a possible increase when they applied in April, but parents said that without a definite answer earlier, it would be hard for them to shift if the school became unaffordable.

Kylie McKenzie, the marketing and admissions manager at The British International School, Abu Dhabi, said its expansion plans and higher salaries for teachers forced it to raise fees.

The school had not raised its fees for two years, Ms McKenzie said.

She did not disclose the new fee structure, saying the school was "still negotiating with Adec on the fee increase".

Schools will be monitored to ensure they apply the approved fee structures. Any found to be overcharging will be forced to reimburse parents or provide credit for the next year.

aahmed@thenational.ae