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‘Salaries are not keeping up’: Dubai parents worry about tight budgets after school fee hike – News


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Published: Tuesday, April 2, 2024, 6:46 p.m.

Last update: Tuesday, April 2, 2024, 6:47 p.m.

Parents in Dubai may need to review their budgets and allocate a greater proportion to their children’s education as most schools have been given the green light to increase fees.

The emirate’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) announced on Tuesday that some private schools would be allowed to increase fees by up to a maximum of 5.2 percent, depending on the results of the latest annual inspections.

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The KHDA identified 2.6 per cent as the education cost index (ECI), based on which schools can adjust their fees for the 2024-25 academic year. However, schools whose scores fell will not be eligible to request any increases.

For city parents, any increase in tuition fees would hurt their wallets amid the rising cost of living.

American expat Natalia Miranda said even the lowest possible increase would have a “substantial” impact on her finances.

“My son already goes to one of the most expensive schools in Dubai… even the basic 2.6 percent is a substantial increase for families… This year, I didn’t even send my son to the three-year spring camp weeks. as they are additional costs that a family has to incur on top of a child’s tuition fees,” he said Khaleej Times.

Miranda recognizes the costs that can come with the safety and quality of education offered by the country’s private schools. However, she said, the problem was that salaries could not keep up with inflation.

“While I appreciate keeping teacher salaries competitive and the need to update the school itself, it appears that year after year there is an increase, which has not been reflected in salaries other than general inflation,” he said.

doing the math

Another parent, Rishi Talwalkar, couldn’t help but think that the impending increase is an “additional burden”.

“I appreciate the fact that the schools here, especially the top-rated ones, provide a certain level of education but, despite that, if we do our math, it is an additional burden on parents.”

Talwalkar couldn’t help but do the math, considering he was paying more than Dh112,000 a year for his two children in grade seven (Dh59,436) and third grade (Dh52,838).

“If we add 2.6 percent to these two figures, because the school has maintained its ‘prominent position’ even this year, together the amount amounts to Dh2,919.12 a year,” he said. “My question is how much do parents need to earn to make ends meet because families also have to take into account other expenses?”

Another resident, Hozefa A, said a lot of planning and calculations needed to be done to make ends meet. The increase would present a “significant challenge,” especially for those who rely on fixed incomes and salaries, she said.

“The cost of living has been increasing and everyone is aware of it… Every year, we carefully allocate our budget to cover household, educational and medical expenses,” he said. “This increase in school fees does not mean an increase in our salaries and is almost becoming an annual affair.”

What school principals say

Higher fees would lead to better infrastructure and staff development, school operators said. In addition to the cost of living, operating expenses also tend to increase over time, they added.

“The decision to increase school fees for the 2024-25 academic year, subject to KHDA approval for each school, allows us to invest more in our teachers, curricular provision and facilities, the foundation of quality education for every student,” said Dino Varkey, CEO of GEMS Education group.

“We will inform our families in due course about their schools’ fee structure for the upcoming academic year, and we thank them again for their continued confidence in a GEMS Education school as the best option for their children.”

Schools may need to raise fees to invest in curriculum development, maintain accreditation standards and attract and retain qualified teachers, principals said.

Rashmi Nandkeolyar, director and director of DPS Dubai, said the fee increase would be “minimal, so it will hardly affect parents”.

“Our school will have to carefully manage our resources to maintain the very good education we offer. The school management is very conscious of building the future of youth and supporting the noble cause of education and every year we add facilities and provide excellent training for teachers. This year is no different,” added Nandkeolyar.

How the walk is calculated

The increase is linked to the rating of each institute in the inspections. Any fee adjustments by schools must be approved by the KHDA. This is how it is calculated:

  • Schools that improve their rating from “Weak” to “Acceptable” or from “Acceptable” to “Good” can increase their rates by up to doubling the 2.6 percent ICE, which is 5.2 percent.
  • Schools that move from “good” to “very good” will benefit from an increase of up to 1.75 times the ICE. This represents an increase of up to 4.55 percent.
  • Schools that improve their rating from “Very Good” to “Outstanding” will be able to increase their fees by up to 1.5 times the ICE, or 3.9 percent.
  • Schools that maintain the same inspection rating will be allowed to increase their fees by up to 2.6 per cent.

Timeline of tuition fee increases

This is the second year that schools have been allowed to increase fees after they remained unchanged for three years (2020-21; 2021-22; and 2022-23) due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Here’s a look at previous increases:

  • 2016: A new Education Cost Index (ECI) established by the Dubai Statistics Center allows private schools in Dubai to adjust their costs for the academic year.
  • 2017-2018: 2.4 to 4.8 percent
  • 2018 – 2019: Freezing of private school enrollment
  • 2019-2020: Most schools could increase 2 percent
  • 2020-2022: No rate increase due to pandemic
  • 2023-2024: 3 percent – ​​6 percent
  • 2024-2025: 2.6 percent – 5.2 percent


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