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02 March 2024

Dubai's Winchester School to stop monthly fee payments

By Sneha May Francis

The Winchester School in Dubai has devised a new fee payment structure for the next academic year, claiming it will discontinue monthly payments as its administrative staff is fed up of chasing non-payers.

The new structure, which will be introduced in September 2013, will ensure that the fees are paid in advance over three terms – September, January and April.
In a letter to the parents, school principal and CEO Ranhu Anand, has described the decision for the change as inevitable.
“Unfortunately, there are a large number of parents who do not pay the fees when they are due. Every month this results in a huge amount of administrative time, including that of senior educational staff in school spending time chasing outstanding fees and cumulative debt.
“For a significant percentage of those who have outstanding debt, it is only after constant calling, sending reminders and personal interview that debt is finally settled. In some cases, those debts are never recovered and families simply disappear.”
According to the principal, the new structure has been finalised in consultation with the GEMS group and local regulatory body.
The e-mail notification, which was shared with ‘Emirates24|7’ by a parent, comes with a detailed payment structure with each year and the amount payable clearly listed.
The school even offers a unique payment option, allowing parents to pay using Emirates NBD credit card to avail of 11 per cent discount if the payment is made in full with a 12-month interest-free option.
Even though many international schools in Dubai follow this pattern, some parents have objected to this new move.
“Why are we being penalised for no fault of ours? Since we have been paying on time, the school management should not punish us. Under the current economic situation it is easier to make monthly payments than coughing up big chunks at one go,” says a parent, requesting anonymity.
“Bad enough we have to pay large sums of money at one go towards hous rent, and with this new rule, we have to save up for school fees as well,” echoed another parent.
Some schools in the emirate have been under the scanner for devising strange methods to make parents pay up.
In one such incident, a school teacher recalls how a student was forced to stand out of his class until the payment was made.
“It is unfair to punish children if their parents are unable to pay-up. How do you expect 12- and 13-year-olds to understand the gravity of the situation?” asks the teacher. “It only damages a child’s psyche and confidence and nothing else.”
When ‘Emirates24|7’ had contacted the KHDA (Knowledge and Human Development Authority) regarding this issue, Mohammed Darwish, Chief of Regulations and Compliance Commission (RCC) had said that schools can’t disallow students from attending class or appearing in exams over non-payment of fees.
“Parents have a responsibility to meet their financial commitments towards the schools and schools have a right to receive school fees in return for the education provided. The schools can withhold the final examination results until the fees are paid in full.”
He added that parents who are unable to meet their financial commitments should draw a suitable payment schedule in consultation with the school.