By Joanne Bladd
UPDATE 1: Emergency meet to protest ban on fee rises delayed; follows news of fee freeze in Asian schools.
An emergency meeting between the 30-member Dubai Private Schools Group (DPSG) and the emirate's education authority to discuss a ban on Asian schools raising their academic fees has been postponed, Arabian Business has learned.
The meeting, initially scheduled to be held on Monday, followed the news last week that Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), which oversees schools in the emirate, was freezing fee hikes in the 23 Asian schools operating in Dubai for the 2010-2011 academic year.
A letter signed by KHDA chief Mohammed Darwish and sent to all private schools also said education providers must “adapt to our changed circumstances.”
“Like everywhere, people are experiencing financially difficult times,” the letter said.
The comments were interpreted as a warning shot to education providers considering tuition fee increases in the 2010-2011 academic year.
The news is a blow for private sector schools, many of whom argue they have been running a budget deficit for some years.
Is it thought a number of schools have opted to join DPSG in the wake of the news, in a bid to strengthen their negotiating power.
A spokesperson for GEMS Education, the largest private schools provider in the UAE, said schools relied on annual fee increases to remain competitive and attract staff.
“Schools need increases year-on-year in order to increase teacher salaries and attract the best quality Asian teachers possible for our students,” he said, adding that GEMS would lobby against the fee freeze.
The provider, which owns or manages more than 50 schools in the UAE, last week introduced an early-bird discount scheme for fees. Parents with children at Indian curriculum schools can receive an up to 4.3 percent cut on tuition fees if they are able to pay early.
Parents of children in some GEMS international curriculum schools can receive an up to a 8.6 percent discount for early payment.
The concession scheme, now in its third term, is aimed at “[easing] the burden on parents,” the spokesperson said. “A number of factors were considered including current interest rates and what we thought would be attractive to parents.”
An estimated 35 percent of parents opted for early payment last year.
Commenting on the likelihood of a pay freeze for all private sector schools, the spokesperson said: “It seems like KHDA has already made the decision not to allow private schools to raise fees. However we are meeting with them to try and find a solution to this issue.”
The biggest money makers in the UAE are the private schools and now they want to increase the fees, good that someone from the government are looking into this. These schools should be monitored and if the performance is not upto the mark then the fees should be reduced rather than increase.
I doubt schools are running a budget dificit for the last few years..if so,let them share their figures of incomes and expenses to a third un-biased party and if the outcome is what they claim then we all are ready to accept the very high and un-justified tuition fees. I believe schools are only trying to maintain a very high margins and become a profit center. too bad that education is being deviated from its ultimate msg and goal to educate and build a society of great thinkers. I call KHDA not to only freez tuition fees but also to make a re-assesment to the gains of those greedy vicious schools who are only concerns in ripping off the parents money. Too bad the tuition fees is becoming even more expensive than colleague!!!
The year on year increase on shool fee is a phenomenon rampant in this part of the world. One so called, non-profit Indian shool this year has planned to change the uniforms ( in fact , this particualr shcool has a way of doing changing uniforms every other year for students) And the price for uniforms , that could be bought from their list of outlets is exhorbitant . A belt would cost Dh.30 , a pair shoes woudl cost Dh150 ! I beleive this uniform suppliers are having a tie up with school authorities and coax them to change the uniform so that they could bag a fortune profit ... Can KHDA look into this ?...
In order for the schools not to increase the fees, the KHDA should recommend the following to the Government : a) All Teacher's salaries should be frozen b) Concession on Statutory fees like Electricity / Water / Municipality charges for the school buildings / Teachers' accommodation / residence visa stamps charges etc should be waived till permission is granted for increasing the fees c) changing of colours of school buses were forced on the schools for which the schools' managements were forced to spend extra amounts, which should be refunded to the Schools by the Govt as this was done as per the requirement of the Government. d) During the KHDA inspections, extra amounts were spent to improve the standards to satisfy the whims & fancies of KHDA - from where the school managements will recover these costs. If profitability is affected, efficiency/standards will also be affected. In the last few years, all the increases in every area is because of the increase of levies by each and every government department, such as increase in fuel prices / parking charges / statutory levies / bus charges/immigration charges / medical fees etc. Similarly, though the rents are dropping down, the RERA had fixed a level, which the landlords are quoting as market level, and increasing the rentts in certain areas like Ghusais/Karama and other places.
NO School should be allowed to increase fees for next year, There is no need to increase salaries for teachers, they are still paid more here than anywhere else in the world! Every year schools get away with saying they need funds for improvements and extra facilities, they increase the fees and the facilities never come.
Its about time schools also thought about the salaried class who have not had increments during the past two years due to the financial crisis. It cannot be only that teachers welfare has to be considered, but the parents also. I have a number of years experience as a financial analyst and i can easily calculate on my fingers about the astronomical margin these schools make. Infact i have also audited a few schools here and will not be taken for a ride by their lame excuses. If schools form lobbies, so will we as parents. Lets take it head on!.
What is wrong with the KDHA acting in parents favor? ? Have parents turned insane or they co- opting for the private schools ??People are too ready to blame the governmet for everything , even if it is to stop hiking school fees , or introducing properly identified school buses . I read a lot of bad intentions here and misplacing blame is the theme of your game . It is Unfortunate that this city only attracts the veciferous moaners and groaners
I forsee that in the event of Govt ruling in favour of KHDA, the school will increase transportation fees instead. This is technically not tuition fees. Watch Out !
All the parents have money for everything, except for the payment of school fees. Go to the restaurants / jewellery shops / moving to better accommodation / frequent trips for holidays / changing of car etc. etc. you will find them making more and more purchases. There are two options - a) if the schools are running in deficit, you are inefficient. Nobody should run their business in deficits - please CLOSE your establishment and handover same to Parent Teacher Association or KHDA, who will run the institutions efficiently. b) If the parents can't afford to pay the fees fixed by the schools, better approach your employer for an increase or move to a better job where you get better salaries or change the school where you can afford the fees. Don't grumble about others making money; c) Like RTA and Dubai Police Authorities, schools should start issuing Mukhalifas to increase their income, such as if the student is not paying fees in time - charge 10% more for first 5 days, 25% more for next 10days; Whilst this will increase income, it will also contribute for improving discipline. d) Handover the Accounts, thoroughly audited, to the KHDA for a review of the accounts and take appropriate action. e) Whichever parent feels that they are not able to pay the fees, they can approach the KHDA, who should in turn approach the DUBAI CARES programme, who have collected enormous funds for improving education, from which they can arrange for the payment of fees to the deserving candidates. There are various ways to solve the financial crisis of the school managements.
Now KHDA should be very strict on schools because of the economic crisis. Everywhere there is huge downfall. Keeping this in mind they should not allow any shool to raise the fee whatsoever is the reason. Anyone does should be fined. Shools have made enough money even from the present fee what they are collecting itself is very high. Apart from this KHDA should intervene and find out the days in a month school is functioning. For example in march hardly 4-8 days school, in september it will start after two weeks, in June only one week & so on. But the school will charge for the full month. Is this fare? Atleast transportation they should waive in these cases. Hope KHD will look into the matter to justify the case.