Fee increases approved for some Abu Dhabi schools
ABU DHABI // More than a quarter of private schools have been allowed to increase their tuition fees – at least one by nearly 50 per cent.
The Abu Dhabi Education Council said on Tuesday that 51 private schools out of 186 may raise their fees for the academic year starting next month, most by an average of 6 per cent.
The regulator said it rejected applications by 39 other schools for failing to meet criteria.
Adec did not identify schools that successfully applied to raise fees, saying only that of the 90 schools that applied, 15 were Asian curriculum and 75 taught other curriculums.
Al Muneera Private School, which formerly operated in a villa as the Middle East Private School, was consistently among the lowest-performing but was last month bumped up to “satisfactory”.
It has been allowed to lift fees for new pupils by up to 47 per cent. Children entering kindergarten will have to pay Dh14,000, excluding books, transport and uniform, which cost Dh4,350.
But tuition for kindergarten pupils who were already attending the villa school will be only Dh6,600.
The Philippine Global School, which took over the underperforming Twenty First Century Private Academy last year, has been allowed to raise its tuition fees by 20 per cent, even though it continued to be ranked as “weak” in recent inspections.
The school’s fees schedule for next academic year, posted by Adec, shows the same prices as the recently finished year.
But a footnote says “the school is eligible for 20 per cent increase in tuition fees for the year 2016-2017”, leaving some parents confused.
“When next year comes will they increase the tuition fee?” asked AA, whose daughter will enter Grade 7 at the Philippine Global School next term.
“Why doesn’t Adec make a fixed note that there should be no more increases aside from Adec-approved tuition fees?
“It’s confusing for us parents because we are relying on their approved tuition fees.”
Adec did not answer questions on Tuesday, neither did the managing director of the Philippine Global School.
Susan Kippels, of the Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research, said for some parents the increases could mean they have to leave the country.
“The fee hikes could determine if families stay or leave the UAE, or lead to more parents sending their children back to their home country for schooling,” Ms Kippels said.
“This wouldn’t be the case, though, if salaries were increasing at the same rate. On the flip side, schools also have to pay teachers’ salaries, which are the number one expense for schools.
“Schools also have many other costs. So if schools are experiencing greater costs, it’s not surprising that their increasing costs are being passed on to families in the form of higher tuition.”
Adec says that “to qualify for a fee increase, schools must meet performance standards measured in annual inspections”.
“Fee increase criteria include the improvement of human resources by recruiting quality teachers, and focusing on professional development and salaries.”
Schools must also show that they have invested in maintaining buildings and equipment, kept a “balance between school owners and parents’ rights”, and have been operating for at least three years.
They must also “have a CCTV system installed by a certified company”.
The percentage of Emiratis among staff and pupils is also considered, as is the admission and support of special-needs pupils.
In Dubai, private schools have been permitted by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority to raise their fees between 3.1 per cent for the low-performing schools and 6.4 per cent for the “outstanding” schools for the coming year.
Updated: August 2, 2016 04:00 AM