UAE School Fees, Performance: Who is Satisfied?

UAE School Fees, Performance: Who is Satisfied?
By David Westley
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A whole range of different criteria effect satisfaction levels towards UAE schooling. Here details the main reasons likely to propel parents towards feeling warm and fuzzy, or bitter and hostile.


Who pays

Why pays school fees has a distinct effect on attitudes towards the quality of education on offer in the United Arab Emirates with contrasting satisfaction levels depending on who is picking up the tab.

One in 6 parents are happy with the school their children attend if their company picks up the bill. This drops to almost one in 7 for parents who pay a contribution, and just one in 9 for those who have to look after the bill themselves.

This is perhaps understandable. For any purchase we tend to look at value, and parents who don't actually pay clearly have a very different perspective than those who do. However there is something a little odd in the results. Those who do not pay also record the greatest number of parents who are unsatisfied as a percentage, and therefore the lowest number who are just satisfied.

This could be for a number of reasons, however some parents in this category may not have a choice - the school has been assigned by their company. Equally this demographic may also be the most focused and critical when it comes to the quality of education on offer in the UAE.


Comparable benchmarks

However while picking up the tab has an effect on attitudes, a bigger effect on satisfaction levels comes from previous experience outside of the UAE - or not as the case may be.

The happiest parents in the UAE are not those whose children have not gone to school outside of the country before, the happiest parents are those whose children went to state schools that were free - with 16% of those who have experienced free education saying they are happy with UAE schools. The figure drops very slightly to 14.5% for parents of children who have not gone to schools outside of the country before.

However, the percentage of happy parents drops to a miniscule 4.1% of parents for those whose children went to private schools elsewhere.

The findings suggests UAE schools are perceived as a marked improvement on state schools outside of the UAE, but do not yet compare with private schools outside of the country.

Parents whose children went to private schools outside of the UAE are the most unhappy - one in three saying they are unsatisfied with the schooling of their child.

Question for UAE schools: What are private schools outside of the country that private schools in it are not...


Happy, but bad value?

An interesting skew on these results is the attitude towards school fees. While parents whose children went to free state schools are likely to be the happiest bunch of parents, they are also most likely to think fees are bad value.

In total 65.54% of parents whose children went to state schools outside the country think UAE school fees are bad value, a figure that drops to to just 42% for parents who have not experienced education in another country.

The reason, although it appears to contradict with satisfaction levels, is likely to be the result simply of managed expectations. A significant number of parents growing up in a free school environment will believe education "should be for free". Parents in the UAE have not experienced that environment, and there a different set of expectations - for their children.



The curriculum, unsurprisingly, makes a significant different to overall attitudes, and there is a considerable amount of data to explore here. However, top line the most satisfied parents are those that attend either IB, or mixed IGCSE and IB schools, followed - with some degree of separation, by pure play UK IGCSE and A Level schools.

There are of course a hand full of mixed IGCSE and IB schools, and very few pure IB schools, and all are pretty much top tier, premium schools. There are, by contrast 10s of UK IGCSE and A Level schools, with very different price points and philosophies towards education. With more schools, you would expect to see more contrast in the satisfaction levels.

The unhappiest set of parents are those sending their children to Indian and Arab schools.

Just 4.4% of parents with children attending Indian schools say they are happy with schooling, and almost 4 in 10 say they are unhappy. However the unhappiest are those parents attending Arab schools where almost 7 out of 10 parents say they are unhappy with the schools their children attend. Ouch. Much homework for these schools to do we think.


More >>
Extra-curricular - but not optional
UAE Teachers blamed for poor performance
UAE School Fees, Performance - Who is satisfied?
Schools make payment easy, but could make it easier
School Fees driving UAE parents into debt
One in 3 UAE parents admit to late school fee payment
9/10 parents claim financial strss from school fees


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