Dubai schools cost more than UK universities

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


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.

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.


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?.


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....

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.


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


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.

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


The greed of the education business people will never stop, and yet, govt. isn't doing a thing about it..... till it will become too late, as usual...... yeah, you heard me, it happens that they are reactive where they should proactive...... yeah, thanks lord, there is at least some kind of activeness so to say.

Pity people have to pay this much of money to give their kids a proper education, where education should be a mission, a mission to be given with the minimum cost to cover the expenses, not to make a huge profit out of it !

let's open a school, have low cost teachers and not even pay them (they need jobs, right?) and overcharge the hell out of everyone who need to educate their kids.


I was about to move to Dubai from the US hoping to live the Dubai dream...but reading all these posts and especially the careless nature of the government towards expats and foreign workers and especially the ill treatment and double layers of laws, one for locals and one for foreigners, is something I can not live with at all as I believe every human is equal no matter where they are born.
By the way, to the gentleman who posted above about the same laws in the US for higher university fees for no us citizens, I would like to educate him that we are talking of primary schools here, not universities. Schools in the US are free with the best education whether you are a local or foreigner, so don'teven start to compare. Secondly, even in US universities, you can get schollarships and grants and work on campus and off campus to earn your fees...does Dubai allow that to foreign students??? If you get a univeristy job you pay local fees even if you are a foreigner, so no comparision there!


Guys have commented here about the costs. Of course the cost does not justify the quality they produce. Second, any guy who can sit down with a calculator (or without), will tell how much profitable it is to be that school. If someone can start a simple school wothout the "cosmetic facade" and ensure they have good dedicated teachers (pay them decently), the management will still make profit and also ensure receiving blessings of the parents. The quality of students they generate now is pathetic. Even the show the management puts up for inspection is worth a comedy televesion serial. To add to the misery, if the inspectors say your school is good then they justufy a fee rise.


Dubai may be tax free but they more then make up for it in other ways. The other ways that they make up for it exceed taxes paid in western countries. Only for locals does this work out well.

To the locals if I am not mistaken education and medical is all free. Utility bills are also lower. In the areas that they live they also do not have to pay the community fees every year like the ones the expats do.


Hisham, he is not talking about "fees". You have actual "fees", and then you have inflated costs of housing, schooling, and telecom. Housing and schooling take up more than 50% of the income of many cost-conscious families.
On top of that , many newcomers are expected to cough up an entire years rent before they even have 2 months salary.
Blaming "partying" is a red herring, there are plenty of families who dont party, budget all costs and still find it difficutl to save 5% , let alone 35%, mainly because of the high accomodation and schooling costs


@Omar - actually, the more discussed western countries being referring to support their *residents*. Your lower in-state charges apply whether you are American or Armenian.


@Andy unless you're talking about someone from some banana country, this can hardly be true. All the fees and extra charges together can never amount to 30% of your earnings, or in some European nations' cases, over 50%. Instead, it's the expats themselves who have created what they refer to as the "Dubai lifestyle", which in their case is a lifestyle of clubbing, alcohol and eating out three times per day. With that in mind, any country would be expensive. It can even be a quite amusing minstrel show to look at, and to see how new expats are pulled into this lifestyles by the ones who are already here. If you live according to your means and maintain the European lifestyle, you can save at least 35% of your salary. If you want to drive Porsches on a 12K salary, you don't have to be a math genius, and any type of "machine" will swollow up your money.

Omar is back

@Andy, every country supports its citizens! In USA, if u r a state resident ur univ. tuitions r much lower, zan if u r a US citizen from anozer state a bit lower and if alien, full fare!!!It's like zis almost all over the world and in every aspect of life starting by the USA!! People just randomly envy rich countries and rich people and this is the nature of mankind all over the world esp. in UAE where locals are less than alien residents!
@ Adam, i am ready to pay for my children's good education instead of sending them to public schools in Europe but i believe that fees here are overpriced and the main unfair problem that needs to be fixed by the regulators and media should play a role in that is the lack of control that entices unfair crazy tuitions!

Mike DeLonghi

You got it Andy. The UAE expat model is an elaborate Pyramid Scheme with three well defined tiers. UAE Nationals, white collar expats and blue collar expats. Having enjoyed second tier for a couple of years I realised the limitations and how unsustainable this model really is. You watch the Emirati having his houseboy wash his Land Cruiser in subsidized desalinated water EVERY morning - the water trickling away in the drive way is utterly wasted and bares an uncanny resemblance with the dreams and hopes of many white collar expats. We want to believe that this place is for real and we can actually stay in say Dubai, for good. But it's all a mirage.


@ Omar is back, very well said Omar, the standard of living in Dubai and the UAE as a whole is high and it costs a lot to reside and lead a reasonably decent lifestyle in this great country. Expats chose to come to the golden shores of the Arabian Gulf, nobody forced them to come or drag their children along. Since they chose to educate their children in the UAE, they should be able to pay the fees and or send them back home to pursue their studies not make an annual big hue & cry. Those days when the teacher use to come to school on a dilapidated bicycle and slippers are long gone and forgotten, education is business people and rightly so.

Mike DeLonghi

Adam, some of the best, most qualified teachers I had as a kid were the ones wearing 'slippers' and 'riding old bicycles'. Your other arrogant statement that our kids should just be sent home for school if we can't afford school fees and that 'education is business' both have a rather hollow ring to it. I went through public schools in Scandinavia and still made it as an Exec in multinational company. Surely, I prefer that model of having an actual choice between public/private education rather than being force-fed over priced, monopolized private schooling such as in Dubai. If you can't appreciate that the current state of UAE education (for expats, mind you locals get it for free!) is basically flawed, then I can only speculate about your motives for posting such blunt statements.

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