Distance Learning: How Much Parents Will Pay?

... Or more accurately, how much are they willing to pay before they feel their school's demands are unfair, and unreflective of the offering they are being given. While schools are preparing and hoping for a return to school in September, they will also no doubt be doing the maths should that not be possible.
Distance Learning: How Much Parents Will Pay?
By David Westley
Do your children attend a UAE school? Take our survey and help other parents.
WhichSchoolAdvisor's annual school survey.

Should online education continue into the next academic year, how much are parents willing to pay? WhichSchoolAdvisor.com used its parent survey to find out.

In fact it asked two questions:

1. How much are parents willing to pay for continued distance education next term, and;
2. How much parents are willing to pay for a blend of online and in-school learning.

Schools are particularly interested in both questions as their bottom line is, well on the line - that is, their ability to continue to do business on current terms depends on the income they get from fees. As much as the majority of parents, if not more so, schools want September to be business as usual.

Parents, and schools, are however still waiting for that official announcement that will let them know which way they need to turn. At the moment "all options" continue to be on the table which includes distance learning, in-school learning or a blend of both.

We did not need a survey to tell you that parents do not want to pay full fees for distance learning. We can now, however, let you know now how much they are willing to pay. This may or may not be a fair reflection of value - perception of value, and actual cost of delivery are two very different things.

According to our survey just 12% of respondents say they are willing to pay 100% of current fees. The most popular response is a willingness to pay 50% of fees, chosen by 26% of respondents. This is considerably less than the average 15% deferred discount offered by many UAE schools for the final term of the 2019-20 academic year (for Western schools, and first term of the 2020-2021 academic year for Indian schools).

It's not a whole lot better for blended learning - although it is better.


On average parents are "happy" to pay, approximately, 20% more for a mix of in-school and online education. This time the most common response was 70% to the question: "If schooling is blended, e.g. three days in school, two days distance learning, what % of current fees would you expect to pay?" Only 3% of respondents would expect to pay less than 50%. That's unlikely to make schools jump for joy, but compares to the 12% of parents who would want to pay less than 50% for distance learning.

The difficulty with any question that involves fees and payments is that respondents have little incentive to say they want to pay more, and every reason to say they want to pay less - hoping of course to influence outcomes. However, even should schools massage that understanding into our findings it seems hard to escape the reality that while distance learning continues, in any form, schools will have an uphill battle persuading parents that the payment of 100% of fees is fair or legitimate.

Please note, the WSA Parent Survey continues to collect data throughout the year, updating elements of our reviews in real time. This keeps them relevant, on point, and valuable to prospective parents researching their next school. If you have opinions on your school, and have not taken the survey in 2020, please take it here.

The particular questions noted in this article have so far received 1,150 responses from respondents across the United Arab Emirates. Most responses have come from Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

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