Dubai's GEMS eyes UK private schools move

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Dubai's GEMS is planning to open six fee paying schools in the UK. (Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)

Dubai's GEMS is planning to open six fee paying schools in the UK. (Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)

Dubai-based GEMS Education is planning to set up private schools in the UK but with fees at half the price of top schools in the country.

The education company, which employs over 10,000 staff around the globe, intends to open six fee-paying day schools for boys and girls aged three to 18 in towns and cities across England over the next two years, the UK's Guardian reported.

It said GEMS aims to charge parents between £8,000 and £12,000 a year – about half or a third of the price of some of the country's leading public schools.

Mark Labovitch, chief executive officer of GEMS for the UK, Europe and Africa, said it was targeting "huge swaths" of the British middle classes who could not afford private school fees.

Fees for non-boarding pupils shot up by 27 percent in UK private schools between 2007 and 2011, according to data from the Independent Schools Council (ISC).

The location of the GEMS schools has not yet been finalised, but Labovitch told the paper there were parts of the country that were under-served by the number of private schools they had.

Labovitch said his company, which runs 100 schools worldwide, was still considering how it might devise entrance requirements for the new schools.

Last year, GEMS Education said it plans to spend around $300m on expanding its network of schools across Kenya and could list in the future.

GEMS, which is the biggest private-schools operator in the UAE, said it aims to cater to five million students by 2024 and may offer its shares to the public to fund further expansion.

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