Dubai School Fees Rise in 2020-2021 - KHDA

According to data released in part one of three of its Dubai school Landscape Report for 2020-2021, average fees have risen this academic year, despite the impact of Covid-19 on the wider economy, and increase in available places in UAE schools.
Dubai School Fees Rise in 2020-2021 - KHDA
By David Westley
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According to data released in part one of three of its Dubai school Landscape Report for 2020-2021, average fees have risen in this academic year, and the number of parents paying less than 20,000 AED a year has fallen.

This is somewhat counter-intuitive. With the impact of Covid-19 on the economy, many would have expected a softening of fees for this academic year. Official numbers at least reveal this is not the case.

While there have been a number of schools announcing discounts on fees, average fees have risen to 29,953 AED for the 2020-2021 academic year, almost 1000 AED up from 2019-2020 when the average fee paid was 29,057 AED. That is despite a fall in capacity utilisation. This year has seen a decline of 15,849 students (-1.7%) across all schools, and a net increase of two schools. 

Note: The KHDA has not yet announced capacity utilisation but last year the figure was 81%, a fall from 90% in 2013/14.

The total number of students in Dubai is now 295,140, across 210 schools. The percentage of parents paying under 20,000 AED per annum has fallen from 51.1% in 2019/2020 to exactly one in two this year.

While schools that have announced fee reductions have all been premium fee UK schools, Indian and US curriculum schools have been hit as hard in terms of a loss of overall numbers analysis reveals. Each curricula has lost, approximately, 4,000 students. The new schools arriving this year also straddle curricula choices: Bright Learners School (US), Ghaf Primary School (UK), Pearl Wisdom School (CBSE), The Chinese School Dubai and Vernus International School (US).

Announced reductions

Only a handful of schools have announced permanent reductions from the academic year 2020-2021. These are:

Dubai English Speaking School 5%
Dubai English Speaking College 12%
Hartland International New fee structure starting from 41,000 AED for FS1 through to 74,000 AED for Year 11 (the school does not, as yet, have a Year 12 or Year 13 cohort). Previously, the same fees ranged from 49,750 AED to 78,000 AED.
Foremarke - Repton Al Barsha Up to 16% lower
Dubai Heights Academy  

While official statistics suggest a market resistant to fee reductions, it is important to note not all schools go the public route. Schools and parents have been encouraged by Dubai's education regulator to engage in dialogue where ability to pay has become an issue as a result of Covid-19. Moreover, the figures would not include non- or deferred payments.

It could still be that overall fees being paid this year have declined, but that this is not represented by the official figures suggest that at the very least, the majority of schools do not expect, or desire, the effects of Covid-19 to be enduring or permanent.

The numbers

2020-2021 Av fees, 29,953 AED  - an increase!
2019-2020 Av fees, 29,057 AED 

2020-2021 - 50% pay less than 50% - declining
2019-2020 - 51.1% pay less than 50%

2013/14:90% of school capacity used
2018/19 and 2019/20:
Capacity used between 80 and 81%
Not yet announced

Growth YoY
2019/20 - + 2.1%
2020/21 - 1.7%

Number of students
2020 / 21
- 279,291
- 295,140

Difference: 15,849 - almost 16,000
Note: UK, US and Indian curriculum schools account for about 3/4 of that.

New schools: 30 since 2017/18, +6 from 2019/20 - Net + 2
2019/20 - Net growth was - 1.
But in 2018/19 +15 (16 -1)

New schools in 2020-2021: Bright Learners School, Ghaf Primary School, Pearl Wisdom School, The Chinese School Dubai and Vernus International School.

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