Complacency in Dubai School Admissions - Report

A new report published this week by the Education Intelligence Group (EIG) highlights the good, the bad and the unexpected parental experiences in the Dubai premium school admission process
Complacency in Dubai School Admissions - Report
By C Hoppe
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The Education Intelligence Group (EIG) is set to release the findings of its new Dubai school ‘Mystery Shopper’ survey, shortly. The results suggest that many premium Dubai schools are complacent in their treatment of parents.

In total, 58 percent of the school’s focused on the individual needs of the parents and only 50 percent of schools were considered to have 'strong' communication throughout the entire admissions process.

Worryingly, only a third (around 33 percent) of the schools visited by the EIG 'Mystery Shoppers'  (who are all parents themselves), were considered strong enough for them to potentially consider sending their child to the school or recommend the school to other parents. 

One 'Shopper' said:

"The school tour was very disorganised. The head-teacher concentrated on how many students were in the school rather than the educational offering and I was treated like a strain on her day. No-one even bothered to follow up after my visit."

Interestingly, the new schools fared much better in the survey compared to the more established schools.

A spokesperson for EIG told, "the communication processes and treatment of parents [in the new schools] were seen as generally very good.  In some cases, the educational messages were exceptional and very convincing." 

"However, the more established schools were judged as lacklustre and the parents were not convinced about their education message due to their lack of professionalism and streamlined process," he went on to say.

One ‘Shopper’ said, “I spoke directly to admissions, unfortunately none of my questions were answered and I was told to refer to the website.”

“The registrar wasn’t helpful,” said another. “I requested a tour of the school and I was told that I needed to book an assessment and then have a tour. I explained I wanted to see the school first and I was told “No”. I told her that I would like to think about it and at that point, she said "OK" and ended the call without taking my contact details. The experience completely turned me off the school.”

“The tour about the school was very informative, but my needs as a parent were not met," said another EIG ‘Mystery Shopper.’

“They never asked my child’s name, year group, interests or what they enjoyed learning. So as a parent, I have no idea about what they could offer my child. I got the impression they were more interested in getting the numbers for the secondary school.”

The schools visited by EIG’s ‘Mystery Shoppers,’ are all considered ‘Premium,’ with fees for FS1 costing AED 40,000 or higher.

The ‘Mystery Shoppers’ were asked to rate the quality of the telephone conversations, the quality of the school appointments and the educational message that the schools were selling.

A spokesperson for EIG said, “school marketing budgets have doubled in the past year with some schools spending millions of Dirhams on advertising to attract parents.”

“Many schools use words such as “personalised” “individualised” and “high quality,” in their taglines, so Education Intelligence Group wanted to find out if parents get a personalised service when they inquired with a school.”

Overall, the results indicate that premium Dubai schools are not taking the admissions process as seriously as they probably should; given the increased competition in the sector.

The mystery shopper report will be available shortly via the Education Intelligence Group's web site.

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