In 2013, we declared the expat package on its last legs. In 2015 we can say it is proving remarkably resilient, and still very much here - for a select and rarefied group. Some 16% - one in six - of lucky respondents now having their school fees paid by their company, actually up three percentage points from 2013.
The number getting a partial contribution is however down, but by just a half a percentage point.
Just over 5% of respondents in the 11,000 AED - 15,000 AED income bracket have their school fees paid by their company, while over a quarter (27%) of high earners (70,000 AED and above), get the tab picked up by their company. The expat package is alive and well - but only for the world of senior management.
While the UAE increasingly entices expatriates as a land of opportunity and companies no longer need to offer the packages they once did, there remains a tier of senior, and very global employees that can choose where to work that can still demand those packages.
That expat packages have increased during this period suggests the UAE is increasingly home for this select group of business leaders. Move over Hong, Kong, Singapore and London.
An unfortunate result is an increasing division between employees - between those where school fees are a growing slice of household income and for those for whom it is negligible. For those in the 11,000-15,000 AED household income bracket, almost 50% claim over one-fifth of their income goes to schooling. Just 25% of higher earners spend that much.
This will increasingly put pressure on regulators to ensure that all income groups can afford schooling in the UAE, and that quality education remains accessible to all. An economy needs all types of workers at all levels, not only senior leaders.
Abu Dhabi remains the emirate where you have most chance of being one of the lucky minority. This makes sense as the home of government which is relatively generous compared to the private sector. In total 18% of Abu Dhabi families get their school fees paid, with another 28% getting a contribution from their company. In Dubai, the figure drops to 16.4% getting full payment, but 23% get a partial contribution. Sharjah is the least generous of the emirates, with 11% getting full payment, and only 11% getting a partial contribution.
Sharjah is also the only emirate where companies paying a contribution is falling year on year.
There is also a significant variation by curriculum. Families sending their children to Indian curriculum schools remain the least likely to have company help, a situation becoming more marked. In 2013 71% of Indian families completely looked after fees themselves. That has jumped 10 percentage points to 80% in 2015.
UK/IB schools remain the least likely to have parents that pay everything themselves at 46.4% (up also, but by just 3%).
Notes: The WhichSchoolAdvisor.com 2015 School Survey was completed by 676 families from across the UAE. The majority of respondents came from Dubai, then Abu Dhabi and finally Sharjah. Outside these three emirates the responses were not sufficient to be statistically significant. WhichSchoolAdvisor.com is keeping the survey running with the aim of being able to benchmark each school against a UAE norm.