GEMS group chief operating officer Dino Varkey has called for an end to tying school fees with inspection reports, arguing costs should be considered before setting fees, and that in an ideal world, the market would not be regulated.
A deregulated market... "That’s the ultimate ambition," he said.
Varkey, speaking to UAE newspaper 7 Days, also said that costs also needed to be taken into consideration. "If you’re regulating our fees then today our costs are unregulated, so there needs to be a balance."
However, according to the School Fees Framework, school fees do indeed take into account costs. Fees in the emirate are calculated by taking into account the quality of education of a school, and the educational cost index (ECI) as calculated by Dubai Statistics Centre.
An Outstanding school is able to increase fees by ECI x 2, a Good School ECI x 1.5, and an Acceptable and Unsatisfactory school by the ECI.
This year the ECI was considered negative - i.e. the costs of running a school had declined over the previous period, and as a result schools have been unable to raise their fees.
Varkey also said the KHDA should focus on student outcomes: “Regulate us on our outcomes and how our schools perform against exams or values or other aspects of accreditation, but don’t be so focused on the inputs - what we’re charging,” he said.
Schools in the UAE presently do not have to report their success in external examinations, and they do not form an explicit part of KHDA reports.