Private education provider GEMS has said it will close its Westminster School in Dubai, one of the biggest child learning centres in the emirate.
The facility, located in Dubai’s Al Ghusais area, is attended by approximately 4,800 pupils from ages five to 18-years old. In a letter sent to parents on Sunday, GEMS said the Westminster School would shut in June 2014 with students being given priority placement in other GEMS institutions as far away as Ras Al Khaimah.
“In recent times our ability to invest the resources required to produce the improvements needed, both educationally and in infrastructure, have been severely restricted because of the current fee structure,” GEMS executive director Dino Varkey said in a letter emailed to parents, seen by Arabian Business.
Click the following to read the letter in full: FUTURE OF THE WESTMINSTER SCHOOL IN 2014
GEMS said that the average increase in fees per student per year at The Westminster School had been AED167 (US$45), which the for-profit company claimed made running the school cost ineffective. The centre, which teaches children from more than 70 nations in both English and Arabic, currently charges basic tuition fees of up to AED10,200 per academic year.
“We simply cannot offer a high quality education at this level that we see as our duty to provide. Indeed, salary increases during the same period have been at a level higher than any fee awards,” the letter added.
Parents have been offered priority placements at other GEMS schools starting from next year, including institutions in Jebel Ali, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah.
One Dubai resident, whose daughter attends Westminster School's Foundation Stage, said they were concerned about securing alternative education. "I feel bad about having to move my daughter to a different school when all her friends are at Westminster School and I'm also worried that places at other schools will be in short supply when all the children from Westminster are looking for a place," they told Arabian Business, wishing to remain anonymous.
In October, GEMS said that it planned to open ten new schools in Dubai over the next two years as part of the firm's ambitious expansion plans.
GEMS also recently announced that it would be investing US$650m in emerging markets to build schools in countries including Uganda, South Africa and Mozambique.
GEMS currently operates about 60 private schools across the Middle East, India, Europe, Africa and the US.