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COVID – 19 Impact : UAE K-12 Education Sector Market Sentiment Survey – Colliers International MENA

K-12 Education affected by the COVID-19 pandemic has imposed a fundamental shift in the mode of delivery at schools from traditional faceto-face provision to online learning. This survey aims at gauging how the sector is coping with various transformations that are taking place concurrently

46% of the respondents charge annual tuition fees range between AED 20K – AED 40K Schools are using multiple tools such as Seesaw, Microsoft Meetings, Class Dojo, Google Classrooms and Google Hangouts 69% of the respondents indicated that investment required for transition to online learning was insignificant

K-12 Education affected by the COVID-19 pandemic has imposed a fundamental shift in the mode of delivery at schools from traditional faceto-face provision to online learning. This affects schools, teachers, students and parents in a variety of ways. Whilst several schools have offered fee discounts, majority of the parents still feel burdened by home schooling obligations where they need to spend considerable time with the children to help them with home schooling.

This survey aims at gauging how the sector is coping with various transformations that are taking place concurrently, ranging from the adoption of online delivery to fee adjustments to meeting parents’ expectations and their collective impact on the sector in the future.

Respondents’ Curriculum Offering

81% of the respondents offer British Curriculum

Respondents’ Location Majority of the respondents offer the British Curriculum 81%, followed by American Curriculum, Indian and International Baccalaureate (IB) Curriculum. Most of the respondents who offer the British Curriculum also offer IB Diploma Program.

Read: How a revolution in education in the Middle East will shape the sector post-coronavirus

Respondents’ Location

66% of the respondents’ schools are in Dubai.

Majority of the respondents have schools in Dubai followed by Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Whilst requested there was no response from schools operating in other Emirates.

Respondents’ Fee segment

46% of the respondents charge annual tuition fees range between AED 20K – AED 40K

The respondents operate across various fee segments. Most of the respondents were from mid – market, followed by the premium segment.

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THE SHIFT TO ONLINE LEARNING

Ease of Adaption of Online Learning (School Staff v/s Parents)

Nearly all the teaching/support staff found transition to online learning “Very easy” or were neutral about it, none of them termed it as “Difficult” or “Very difficult”  

Conversely parents found the transition to online learning challenging with 35% of them indicating it to be “Difficult” or “Very difficult”

Online learning – methods of provision and delivery

All of respondents reported availability of online learning platforms across all grades at their schools.

Schools are using multiple tools such as Seesaw, Microsoft Meetings, Class Dojo, Google Classrooms and Google Hangouts for online instruction and delivery to pupils.

Financial Investment

69% of the respondents indicated that investment required for transition to online learning was insignificant and they were able to utilise existing tools.

Nearly a third of respondents 31%, indicated that they had to make significant financial investment to enable online learning platforms. Of these, a majority spent less than $100,000, while a small minority spent in excess of US$ 1 million. Two schools reported their spend to range between $3 – $5 million.

Read: Transforming online education: when open innovation disrupts the educational sector

TUITION FEES – TERM 3 (ACADEMIC YEAR 2019/20)

Fees Adjustments

58% of the schools have made full or partial refunds for all pre-paid fees (non-tuition) for the current term, the remaining ones are adjusting the refunds against future term’s fees.

38% of the respondents indicated that they are offering fee discounts for current and remaining terms, while nearly a quarter 23% of the respondents have not offered any discounts to tuition fees. The remaining 39% offer other facilities to the parents, as presented below.

In most cases, discounts offered for Term 3 are not refunds but are to be adjusted against the next term (September 2020) fees.

Some of the schools have created a “relief fund” to support parents impacted by COVID – 19 crisis.

A few others are offering discounts based on “a means tested bursary” for those who are most affected, asking for documentations to demonstrate that COVID-19 has impacted parents’ income.

2020-21 ACADEMIC YEAR EXPECTATIONS

Most of the school operators are optimistic and expect the K-12 sector to remain resilient amid the pandemic and recover in the upcoming academic year (2020-21). Nearly half of the respondents expect to retain current enrolment or enrol further pupils, while nearly two-thirds (61%) do not plan to offer any further discounts to the tuition fees in the upcoming academic year (2020-21).

Percentage change in Expected Enrolment in the Next Academic Year compared to current year

54%of respondents expect to retain same number of students or an increase of less than 10% in total enrolment in the next academic year.

However, upon further analysis, it is mostly the affordable and mid-market schools who expect to retain existing and/or enrol further students, expecting a shift from luxury / premium to mid-tier schools amid the challenging economic conditions.

The luxury / premium category schools expect to retain students as some are planning to extend discounts and adjust the current Term 3 fees markdowns during the upcoming academic year (2020-21).

Expected Fee Discounts in the next Academic Year

61% of Respondents have no plans to offer any discount on tuition fees during the next academic year these mostly consisting of affordable and mid-income schools.

Percentage change in Teaching Staff in the Next Academic Year compared to Current Year

Majority of respondents 77% have no plans to reduce teaching staff in the next academic year.

Percentage change in Teaching Staff Salaries in the Next Academic Year compared to Current Year

Majority of respondents 77% have no plans to reduce salaries of the teaching staff during next academic year, however, 23% are contemplating a decrease in teaching staff salaries ranging from 5% to 20%.