Even before the government announced fees would be frozen for the 2018/19 academic year, two schools had broadcast their intent to cut fees.
Repton School Dubai linked its tenth-anniversary to a 10 percent fee discount, while Horizon International School said it would be recalibrating a long-standing fee disparity between the primary and secondary schools for the 2018/19 academic year.
But, what of the rest? Although, back in June, the Executive Council forbade Dubai’s schools to add any increase to their fees for 2018/19, in reality, it would seem most were busy planning fee reductions.
Interestingly, there are many deals about, and it’s not just fees which are quietly being reduced, there are also discounts on various other services and products, from school books to uniforms, educational apps to after-school-activities.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com's Cursty Hoppe finds out more…
In short, it’s likely all down to supply and demand. According to a recent report by the KHDA there’s now over 35,000 available school seats in the emirate. This new education landscape has encouraged schools to get more creative with their offerings and propose more competitive payment options for Dubai’s cash-strapped parents.
Well, the Not for Profit schools (NFP) for a start. None of the city’s NFP schools have offered any discounts for 2018/19.
The same applies for the most-popular UK curriculum schools at the more 'affordable' end of the fee scale. These perennial favourites such as Al Diyafah, Scholars Private School, Pristine Private School, Al Salam Private School and St Mary’s are still sticking to their long-standing fees and are not offering any additional discounts. And, in truth, one wonders how they realistically could, with the majority asking fees well below 40,000 AED per year.
School group Taaleem, also continues with its long-standing discounts off the KHDA endorsed fees, although, it's very possible if the fee freeze had not occurred when it did, its Dubai British School and Jumeirah Baccalaureate School, both of which improved their DSIB rankings this inspection cycle, might have increased fees rather than continuing their discount offering.
Given the demographic make-up of Dubai, schools have always been heavily weighted to parents of KG and primary aged children. For decades, there were very few post 16 options and many families either chose to move away or opted for the boarding school route.
All this changed back in 2016 with nine new all-through/secondary schools opening and a further five following in 2017.
In an effort to ease, “the current economic pressure on parents,” Repton began reducing its secondary fees. This saw the school’s Year 13 being reduced from 120,145 AED to 95,000 AED, a discount of over 25,000 AED.
Horizon International School then announced back in January 2018 it would be reducing its higher secondary years by 33 percent.
Kings’ Al Barsha has recently followed suit by freezing its Year 12 and 13 fees at the same price as Year 11, a saving to parents of 2,500 AED.
Although Dubai British School-Jumeirah Park already offers a flat 10,000 AED off all school years, and has done for quite some time, the school chose to launch its brand new Year 10 by offering parents an impressive 25 percent off the new Year's fees.
Star International School in Mirdif has lowered its fees between 6,000 AED and 11,000 AED depending on year group. Star International is a mid-range school by Dubai standards, and the reductions represent savings for parents is between 19 and 23 percent.
The International School of Creative Science (UK curriculum), is extending its launch offer of a lifetime reduction of 20% off for the first child and 25% off for second and additional children.
Sister school, the American School of Creative Science is offering even more impressive lifetime discounts, with 25 percent off for the first child and 30 percent for subsequent children.
Arcadia Preparatory School is also extending its initial Governors’ Scholarship. This allows students 15 percent off for their entire tenure at Arcadia Preparatory School. Interestingly, even if the child isn’t actually starting this year, if the deposit is paid during 2018/19, future students can also take advantage of the deal.
Arcadia is also offering those who join their FS1 this year 25 percent off FS1 and 15 percent thereafter. The school is also throwing-in 4 sets of uniforms (2,000 AED), extra-curricular activities (valued at 7,000 AED), plus text and exercise books worth 1,500 AED for each student.
IB curriculum, North London Collegiate School Dubai (NLCS) has also decided to extend its initial founders’ fee discount for another year. This means parents will receive between 15 and 20 percent off their annual fees. And, that’s not all, the discount is guaranteed for the next seven years as long as the child remains with the school.
At Dubai Heights Academy (DHA), parents are guaranteed 10 percent off all 2018/19 tuition fees, plus the same again for the 2019/20 academic year. In addition, DHA will also throw in school uniforms, books and their own DHA loyalty card.
The UK curriculum Smart Vision School in Al Barsha has also decided to continue its impressive founders’ discounts for another year, with parents receiving between 20 and 25 percent off the primary school’s KHDA approved fees.
The recently opened Lycee Francais Jean Mermoz (French curriculum) is offering a small 2018/19 discount for parents, this brings the average fees at the school down from 43,600 AED to 42,700 AED.
However, not all schools are choosing to discount each and every year group.
Mid-fee-range school, Newlands in Al Warqaa is offering a 10 percent discount, but only for children in years two to five.
Hartland International School offers no discounts for FS one through to year one, yet from years two to nine the 2018/19 fee discount varies from between 2,000 AED and 9,000 AED, depending on the year.
Collegiate American School has announced discounts for its KG2 to Grade five students. The biggest reductions are in Grades one and two where parents can save over 16,000 AED on the regular 72,000+ fees.
Considering the majority of Indian schools are heavily oversubscribed, it would seem unlikely that any school of this type would be offering discounts.
However, for the newly launched schools with higher fees and adapted curricula, the battle is clearly on to get the youngest children through the door.
The enriched curriculum, Sabari Indian School is offering just over 5,000 AED off its normal 14,463 AED KG1 fees. Further up the school, KG 2 is discounted by 4,000 AED and Grade 1 by 2,000 AED.
Springdales School is offering a hefty 33% off its pre-KG bringing the price down from 18,000 AED to 12,000 AED.
Credence has also offered parents a Pre-KG discount, however it’s slightly less at 2,000 AED off the original 15,000 AED fees.
Regent International School is not offering discounts ‘per-se.’ However, parents will get between 200 AED and 2,000 AED off tuition fees (depending on the year group) for, what the website calls ‘timely payment.’ In addition, the school is also including extra-curricular activities, text and work-books and all essential subscriptions to educational apps required in the fees, the school estimates these add-ons to be worth an estimated 10,500 AED!
Sister-school Sunmarke is also offering ECAs, books and app subscriptions included in its annual fees. According to the school’s website, these are worth between 10,000 AED and 12,000 AED depending on the year group.
Over at Foremarke, parents who can pay the whole year up-front are rewarded with a five percent discount.
GEMS Education offers no outright discounts across its numerous schools. However, the group has launched its GEMS Awards system which allows parents to redeem money off their child’s school fees through various methods.
According to the ‘GEMS Awards calculator,’ (available online), with two primary aged children at an average priced GEMS school, parents can redeem up to 38 percent of fees back through rewards, referrals, use of the GEMS branded credit card and by converting shopping points into fee discounts.
Of course, this would require one to want those items and services being discounted. Potential parents - do your due diligence...
Last but not least credit cards...
Standard Chartered Platinum credit card offers 10% cash back on school fee payment. It is not associated with any particular school and even when the school doesn’t offer credit card payments, it can add the cheque value to your credit card and convert it to six to 12 month instalments at 0% interest. More details on this here.
Al Futtaim’s Universal American School and Deira International School offer five percent cash-back if parents use the Al Futtaim NBAD Credit Card. Parents can also expect 12 months at 0% interest and Zero processing fees too.
Reader Tip! 10% cash back with Emirates Islamic bank on the school fees paid through Emirates Islamic Cash Back Plus card. The maximum value of cash back for school fees is subject to monthly expenditure of 15,000 AED and its cap is 400 AED maximum. (Thank you Tallal).
There are easy payment plans at 0% interest plus 0% processing fees, when using the CBD Credit Card for payment of school fees at Brighton College or Dwight School.
The parents also receive up to 2.5 reward points on every Dirham spent, which is redeemable as cash back or for Emirates Skywards or Etihad Guest Miles.
Finally, if you know of any other discounts, or ways your fellow parents can save money, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add your tips to this article.
So... keep tabs on this article... We are hoping it will keep growing!