Competition heating up in Dubai K-12 education sector, report shows

A new report from strategy consulting firm L.E.K. also said that "tailwinds are strong" in Saudi Arabia's $3 billion K-12 education market
Competition heating up in Dubai K-12 education sector, report shows
Strategy consulting firm LEK suggested that new entrants to the UAE’s education sector must make an effort to understand the needs of parents.
By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Sun 23 Sep 2018 02:41 PM

An increasingly competitive education sector in the UAE means that school operators will have to invest in their understanding of the market and potential differentiators, according to a new report from strategy consulting firm LEK Consulting.

In a report entitled “the private K-12 opportunity in the Middle East”, LEK said nearly 24,000 seats were added in the super premium and premium schools segment between 2015 and 2018.

To ensure success, LEK recommended that schools “invest in understanding the market and competitive landscape.”

“It is imperative that new entrants have an in-depth understanding of the local market and competition at a catchment level to determine the most appropriate price point and curriculum to offer,” the report added.

Additionally, LEK suggested that new entrants to the UAE’s education sector must make an effort to understand the needs of parents.

“New entrants must invest in extensive primary research, including parent surveys, to develop the most appropriate school configuration and establish real differentiators to win in the market,” the report said.

In neighbouring Saudi Arabia, LEK noted that there are “optimal conditions” for the growth of the kingdom’s education sector, given that K-12 enrolments is only 16 percent, compared to 40 percent in Kuwait and 75 percent in the UAE.

“Saudi Arabia’s private K-12 segment is a circa $3 billion market and tailwinds are strong,” the report notes. “Vision 2030 articulates an aspiration to increase share of private education to 25 percent.”

The report adds that increasing the share of private education in Saudi Arabia “will reduce the cost burden on the public purse while also leveraging private provision to deliver higher quality.”

If Saudi Arabia were to reach the level of private provision accessed in Kuwait, the report noted, the market could be worth $14 billion.

Across the region, the report noted that private K-12 education has grown three times faster on average than GDP.

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