Why some Dubai parents are eager to pay Dh200,000 in school fees

Number of children from the Middle East attending British boarding schools has doubled in the past 12 months (File)

It’s a common concern among parents in Dubai that private schools in the city charge just too much and several contemplate whether they’re really getting their money’s worth.

If you are in this tussle of intellect, these figures from British schools could make tuition fee charged by Dubai schools look rather reasonable.

In fact, some British schools (in the UK) charge up to Dh200,000 per year in tuition, a sum that is sure to raise many an eyebrow here in Dubai. However, despite the fees, there is no dearth of parents in Dubai who have sent or are willing to send their kids to these prestigious schools.

The number of children from the Middle East attending British boarding schools has doubled in the past 12 months, according to an ISC annual report 2013/14, stressing the fact that parents are ready to foot the bill for what they perceive as quality education.

Let’s take a look at some such schools. Marymount International School in London charges £18,680 or Dh103,447 per annum in tuition, with fees in high school reaching an equivalent of Dh120,000. Not one school in Dubai charges that much, though a few may come quite close to the number.

Remember, this is just tuition. Considering that most parents in Dubai will need to consider the boarding option for their kids, the amount they’ll spend to enrol their kids in Marymount will shoot up by another £14,770 or Dh81,817.

On the other hand, the Kings School in Canterbury charges £11,120 or Dh61,603 per term, which adds up to Dh180,000 for one academic year for a boarding student.

“The Kings School we are talking about here is one of the oldest schools in the world and they have such a remarkable alumni list,” says Ian Haine, a British national living in Dubai, insisting that the teaching quality at this school is remarkable and hence the fee should be acceptable.

In this context, Dh40,000 in tuition seems relatively a good offer. For example, Wellington School Somerset in the UK, charges £2,295 per term in Year 4 (Dh12,704), a figure many Dubai parents can relate to. For the seniors, the school charges £4553 (Dh25,209) per term, again comparable with schools in Dubai but this is only the tuition, with other charges padding up the overall cost.

However, there remains a growing interest among Dubai parents to enrol their kids in schools in England. For this reason, several parents attend the annual Independent Schools Show, a Dubai event that brings together Britain’s top independent schools here in the emirate to showcase their worth.

This year, 28 schools will be exhibiting at the show, including Wellington College, Marlborough College, Bedales and St. Mary’s Calne.

Organisers of the event, which is set to be held later this month (March 20 and 21), maintain that it not helps the schools recruit good pupils (and parents), but also helps parents discover how the different schools work, discuss bursaries and shortlist schools for their kids.

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