Some 5,000 students attending one of the bigger schools in Dubai may be saved from having to seek a new school, after GEMS Education announced a u-turn over its decision to shut GEMS Westminster School citing an inability to make it pay.
According to a report in UAE daily, the National, the school has submitted plans to Dubai's education regulator, the KHDA, which the authority is currently "looking into".
No details of the plan have been revealed, save it does not involve putting up fees.
“Bearing in mind the students’ best interests, the request is being looked into, Mohammed Darwish, chief of the KHDA's regulations and compliance commission, said.
Parents have been vocal in trying to keep the school open, taking to social media, as well as more formally through requests to GEMs and the KHDA. GEMS Education said yesterday it "would like to acknowledge the tremendous support from parents, students and the broader community.”
Under rules publicly and very transparently laid out by the KHDA, the amount a school is able to to raise its fees is based on a school's rating, and the cost index increase of running a school. Because the rating determines the multiple of a cost index that is said to have declined by Dubai Statistics Office, schools in the emirate have not been able to raise fees for 2013/14.
GEMS Education claims that for some of its schools this is unsustainable: Its balance sheet has been moving in the wrong direction, with teachers salaries, one of the bigger costs in the running of a school, rising this financial year by between 5% and 10% on average.
GEMS Westminster currently charges 10,000 AED per year for fees on average. It is ranked Acceptable by the KHDA. The majority of GEMS Education schools are ranked either Good, or Outstanding.