Dubai-based GEMS Education said it has scrapped plans to relocate its Jumeirah College to a new site in the emirate following a consultation with parents.
For-profit GEMS, which operates more than 60 schools and colleges worldwide, had planned to move the 1,000-student institution to a facility near Al Khail Road. The original relocation had been planned for this year, but was recently pushed back until 2014.
In a letter to parents seen by Arabian Business, GEMS said that while Jumeirah College would not be moving from its existing site in Al Safa 1, the company was going ahead with plans to open a primary school and secondary school near Al Khail Road during 2013 and 2014, respectively.
“It is clear from the feedback received that a significant majority of those who responded to the survey have reservations about the relocation,” the letter read.
One parent, whose young children attend Jumeirah College's primary school, said he was pleased by the decision, but remained concerned that GEMS may revive plans to move the facility again in future. "I'm relieved as my children are at Jumeirah Primary School and this decision would make their transition to Jumeirah College easier in the future," they told Arabian Business.
"Still, we don't know if the decision to keep Jumeirah College open at the current site is permanent. They may just try close it down and transfer everyone to the new school on Al Khail in a couple of years time."
Jumeirah College, whose curriculum covers years seven to thirteen, said in a separate letter to parents earlier in January that it had planned to increase tuition fees by 9.8 percent to a maximum of AED80,348 per student per year for the 2013-2014 academic year if the move had gone ahead.
A spokesperson for GEMS confirmed that these fees only applied if the original move had gone ahead, and the fees for the new schools at the Al Khail site were still subject to approval from the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, the Dubai government's education watchdog.
GEMS awarded a US$45m contract to UK architect BDP in November 2012 to handle Jumeirah College's relocation. The company confirmed that the deal would remain in place but would instead be for the two new schools opening on Al Khail Road.
In December, GEMS drew criticism from students and their parents when it announced the closure of 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 eighteen years old. In a letter sent to parents, 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 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 markets in Africa, the Middle East, India and South East Asia.
GEMS currently operates about 60 private schools across the Middle East, India, Europe, Africa and the US.