With increased living costs in Dubai along with decreased employee benefits, it can be difficult to keep up with school fees – and that’s made even more difficult by the annual 4.8% increase in the cost of them.
If you’re an expat with kids in Dubai, you’ll no doubt have your kids in a private school, and that can be expensive – depending on where the school is. A report by education portal Edarabia and real estate website Bayut revealed that Jumeirah Circle, Nad Al Sheba and Arabian Ranches are the top three areas where school fees are the most expensive, with fees reaching up to AED 110,000 a year.
Taaleem, an educational provider, defended the high cost of school fees as a necessity if schools are to attract the best teachers. Clive Pierrepont, Director of Communications for Taaleem, said that in order to employ the very top teaching talent then schools have to offer highly competitive rates of pay plus benefits. He says that 70% of Taaleem schools’ costs are usually allocated just to staffing.
A few years ago, Dubai had a shortage in schools and the demand enabled the schools to set higher price points. However, that is no longer the case as there is an over-abundance of new schools opening across the city – in September 2016, 15 new schools launched across Dubai. This means there is more competition, so schools had to start offering incentives for parents to choose them. For example, if you enroll your child for the academic year 2017-2018 at Arcadia Preparatory School, a new British School in Jumeirah Village, pupils will be eligible for the Associate Scholarship, a 20% discount off tuition fees for their entire primary school career (up to year 6). And if your child is entering FS1, there will be a 30% discount for the first year.
Although some schools offer discounts when it comes to paying school fees, unfortunately most schools in Dubai require payment for the term upfront and won’t allow parents to pay school fees in monthly cheques – something that would decrease the financial burden. With that in mind, there are only a handful of schools that offer this as an option; some Indian schools do allow parents to make smaller, monthly payments.
Otherwise, if your child is enrolled in any GEMS school, maybe it’s worth paying tuition fees using the GEMS Titanium credit card, which can give you up to a 7% discount on advance term payments plus several lifestyle benefits including discounted movie prices and access to Fitness First clubs.
Standard Chartered Bank also has a Titanium credit card which offers up to 10% cashback on certain school fees.
One major benefit that Dubai schools offer however is a sibling discount. Usually the discount will average around 5% to 10% in most schools. But there are some schools that offer higher discounts with each sibling. For example, Sunmarke School offers a 20% discount for the fourth sibling enrolled at the school.
Even with these options offering some financial ease for parents, some parents still struggle to keep up with paying the term fees. To help them, there are schools across the emirate that have deducted their school fees to help cash-strapped parents.
But paying less for a school doesn’t have to mean a lesser quality of education.
Location, curriculum, previous ratings from the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) and the on-site facilities can all play a part in how much a private school will charge. So, if you have found the previous school years have put a strain on your finances, then maybe it’s time to look around the emirate, rather than looking at what is closest to you.
Educating your children is compulsory, however you don’t want to be left with long-term debt. And if you still think your financial situation can’t handle the increased fees, then there is always the option to start home-schooling your children. With the money you save in school fees, you could start putting that towards their future higher education.
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