Dubai schools cost more than UK universities

Arabian Business finds Oxford and Cambridge charge less for entry than Dubai schools

Parents are paying more to send their children to a school in Dubai than a British university, an Arabian Business investigation revealed.

Some parents are forking out more than AED55,000 (US$15,000) per year for children as young as three years old, while a year’s tuition at universities such as Cambridge and Oxford is less than AED53,000.

Until recently, UK university fees were even cheaper.

GEMS World Academy is among the most expensive schools in Dubai. It charges AED55,386 for foundation years, when children are only three and four years old, according to the school’s website.

Annual fees escalate to AED69,283 for a typical child aged six to nine, and to AED79,733 for ten to 13-year olds. Secondary fees are as much as AED96,140.

Repton, one of the most sought after schools in the emirate, becomes as expensive as a UK university from Year 3.

The final year of primary school costs AED58,860, while secondary fees are between AED70,850 and AED92,650 – 75 per cent more than a UK university.

Kings – one of Dubai’s best schools according to government ratings – is more affordable, with fees not surpassing AED53,000 until Year 7.

Other primary schools rated by Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau as “outstanding” charge between AED33,000 and AED44,000 per year.

All of the emirate’s best secondary schools cost at least AED58,000 per year. Fees for the final year are in some cases almost AED100,000 – nearly double most UK universities.

On top of annual tuition fees, schools generally also charge a non-refundable fee of AED500 to apply for entry, as well as additional costs for transport, medical and extra-curricular activities.

The UK's most expensive university, the highly competitive University of Edinburgh, costs between AED35,000 and AED97,000 per year.

Robert Gordon is the cheapest UK university, at between AED23,300 and AED39,300, while the majority incur annual fees of AED53,000.

The fees only apply to European Union residents. They are at least AED12,000 more for non-EU residents.

High school fees in Dubai are forcing an increasing number of parents to seek bank loans or arrangements to pay their bills.

In some cases, English families are pulling their children out of Dubai schools and sending them back to the UK for their education.

Mike Hynes, managing director at Kershaw & Leonard, which publishes the Cost of Living in the UAE report, put his two eldest children through school in Dubai but has sent his younger two to the UK after watching local school fees skyrocket.

Hynes said it was cheaper to send his eldest daughter to university in the UK than to school his 14-year old son in Dubai.

“I think it’s astonishing when... it’s cheaper for me to get them through the UK university... than it was to put them through school. How ridiculous is that,” Hynes said.

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Posted by: Sajjad

Comparing school fees to university fees is not apples to apples comparison. We need to compare school fees to school fees.

I put my children through a private school in the UK for 2 years then moved to Dubai. The UK school was a reasonably pricced one, not a high end. I paid AED 67,000 (total for both per year) in the UK and pay AED 62,000 (total for both per year) here in Dubai. So it is cheaper here. The Cambidge and Oxford University fees at AED 53,000 are also cheaper than a UK private school.

The question, however, is not just one of fees. The level of education in the UK is considerably better than Dubai. I would say that my children dropped back about a year in their level here in Dubai compared to where they were at in the UK. In Dubai we have good facilites in the school that we pay for, but the education is more important than whether there is a swimming pool or not. Unfortuantely, there is no focus on improving the actual education itself.

Posted by: Margo wearn

I have decided to home school in Dubai because a) i am broke and b) i am (actually) quite intelligent.

Easy solution and the kids can get up at 11 instead of 7.

Posted by: Skm

University tuition fees soar for foreign students
Foreign students are being charged up to eight times more than British undergraduates as universities seek to plug a multi-million pound hole in the higher education budget.

New figures show students from outside Britain and the EU will pay an average of �10,463 in tuition fees next year ? a rise of 5.6 per cent.

One university ? Imperial College London ? is preparing to charge fees of up to �26,250 for some laboratory-based subjects.
Under Government rules, tuition fees for all British students and those from EU member states are capped at �3,290 next year, but universities are free to set unlimited fees for foreign undergraduates.

A study earlier this year by the think-tank Policy Exchange found that overseas students were increasingly seen as a ?lucrative source of income for a growing numbers of universities?.

Posted by: Alex

Agree, I have my daughter as an overseas student at Central Saint Martins College and tuition and accommodation in student quarters is equal to Year 10 for my son at GEMS Wellington in Dubai.... No issue normally if quality of education was worth the investment, however, teachers who treat assignments in Dubai as a working holiday and the constant 'in and out' with no continuity of teaching staff makes the quality suffer and the students lacking encouragement and commitment....

Posted by: Dr Salman Hameed

No taxes here in UAE. Even the services here offered to all residents way better than any other country in the world. We dont pay a dollar or pound or Euro to use public toilets like many Western countries despite all the taxes they pay. Education is far more superior in private schools here as compared to western public schools. That's why hundred of thousands of westerners do not want to go back to their own countries as the level and quality of life they enjoy in Dubai is far superior to that in any other country. If you are a law abiding residents than there are no problems. The local emirati community is educated and very tolerant. I have lived in UK and Canada and USA and I know what I am talking about.
I can spend on health and education from the money I save for not paying taxes. I dont have to wait for months or sometimes years waiting for doctors appointments or investigations.
LONG LIVE UAE AND its leaders and all the residents.
May God bless this country.

Posted by: Oldtimer

Most of what you mentioned is true, but the level of education here is really pathetic! I am comparing it to the private education I received in a third world country, for far less money ( exchange rates considered)! There was far more commitment to quality education and the teachers were very dedicated to their students. The GEMS group is spoiling the reputation of Dubai by dishing out mediocre fare for top dollar. What is adding to the helplessness of the parents is the near monopoly they have in Indian-curriculum schools. We have a wonderful life here and would like to stay together as a family, and not have to send our kids away to get a better education. We would (at lest I would) gladly pay top dollar, if they only provided quality education. Despite the exorbitant fees they charge, their teachers are paid a pittance, so qualified and experienced ones don't stay for long. The result is a constant change of teachers which adversely affects the students performance

Posted by: Gamal

Mr. Salman,
with all due respect, we are talking about cost of education and you are talking about taxes which is irrelevant.

schools are suppose to be either non-profit Org or they are regulated in the sense that they can not simply charge as they like.

as the article mentioned, the KJ student pays more that the university student....where is the sense here.

we need gov intervention just like any other sector..banking etc.
although the quality of education is not the issue here but you went to compare the UK / western education to Dubai schools....which is a poor discussion because it is not relevant and also we all know all the breakthroughs came from the west/ USA ...if u want to compare MIT/ Harvard/ Stanford/Berkely / Oxford/ Cambridge etc.

as a matter of fact, the curriculum that the schools teach in Dubai is either British or American.

so let's not divert and lets compare apples to apples.

the question here is the cost of education period.

Posted by: one of the joes

Dear Salman, your Dr does not help you from making unqualified statements, it appears. many expats that I know left & live & work happily in countries where they have to pay taxes. I have sent my children back to Europe to attend (private) schools there. All of our children confirm how much better the schools (curriculum, teachers, infrastructure) are compared to here. All of our kids have been to a number of high cost schools in Dubai, they know what they are talking about.
you pay for what you use here, that's just a different collection scheme than with taxes. Nothing is for free here, but that is also not expected.
And in regard to medical services - you know where many Emiratis go for treatment? Europe, namely Germany and UK. Same doctors work here & in Europe, different price. European prices are lower as there is no real estate bubble surcharge one of the joes included in Europe prices.
I still live here as I am closer to where the biz is - in the Gulf region, not for taxes

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