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Sun 16 Dec 2012 03:52 PM

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GEMS to close Dubai’s 4,800-pupil Westminster School

Pupils to be offered places in far flung Ras Al Khaimah when school shuts down in 2014

GEMS to close Dubai’s 4,800-pupil Westminster School
GEM executive director Dino Varkey.

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.

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Singh 6 years ago

THis is would Happen my Friend. Before the management was being operated by Indians but now it is being operated by Westerners which means Higher Salaries to them -Which means increase fee every year to fund their costs and baseless projects in UK.

Madam Varkey was the perfect Management Leader.

Prince of Arabia 6 years ago

This is a cheap trick by GEMS, with every new school they are increasing their fees and profits. They made their profit on their INVESTMENT years back and their operating costs (including the salaries for the teachers) did not grow expotentially.

manesh gurnani 6 years ago

agree with u. Education in Dubai has become only business. No profit shut down, without any care to the fustrations parents will hv to go thru again, to enroll their children & stress for children to learn a new system in a new school. To pay the high salaries for these teachers we parents hv to pocket out the funds in terms of extremely high school fees (not all schools of Gems, but majority). It is shame the meaning of Education now means only more money.

AK Sandhu 6 years ago

I hope the wise ruler of Dubai cancels the lease for the land which was given to Varkeys for establishing and running the school and give the land to some non-profit organization who can establish and operate a school for not so rich residents of Dubai.

Sunil 6 years ago

I am so glad I sent my kids back home to study.

Thamir Ghaslan 6 years ago

Class warfare much?

In India, 25% of teachers are absent on any given day, and the results published by PISA (program for international student assessment) and TIMMS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) placed India's achievement second to last.

GCC states running by indigenous populations are close to international average, only China and other far eastern nations topped the chart.

realiste 6 years ago

oh dear, GEMS and Varkey arent making enough money. So they shut up shop and move on.

Hard luck kids, go to Ras Al Khaimah, they have done their best for you.

time to move out of education and into a real business concern maybe? Then they can stop pretending education is the driver. Profit was, is and always will be for them.

james t 6 years ago

considering global education rankings (both at university and primary level) i would rather have western teachers than indian...plain fact..top 100 universities do not include ANY indian ones...there is a reason for that...its quality not cost which should not be compromised...

Jatin 6 years ago

blah. blah. blah… this is the dark side of an open market policy. You can't blame Varkey, as he is as much a businessman as much as any other for-profit organisation. I have my two sons studying at Dubai Modern High, I pay approx Dhs,8000/month for their fees, and plus a rent of Dhs 8,000/month (another for-profit organisation), and then the monthly bill to Etisalat/e-vision (another for-profit organisation), add groceries, medical bills, and car expense in this (for-profit) city. That is the price you have to pay to live in this 'Dream City'. Give your life to this country and leave with nothing in hand except an expensive school leaving certificate. Oh, in the same article it says, Varkey is going to invest US$160m in developing markets. And operates 60 private schools already. Wake up everyone, he is a very smart businessman, not a teacher, he only hires them to run his business. And that's one lesson he is NOT GOING TO TEACH ANYONE. haha…! like it or leave it, this is Dubai.

Parent 6 years ago

This is a decision motivated by nothing more than profit margins. Why close a school rated as acceptable? Why not raise the fees by a modest sum - say AED100 per month - which most parents would prefer to seeing the school close down? The reasons given for the closure simply to not add up. GEMS has put profit margins ahead of the welfare of the children at Westminster school. Thanks for the pre-Christmas slap in the face GEMS!