Complex Made Simple

Back to school pop quiz: Will 2018 UAE fees break the bank, T or F?

The “back to school” term, or slogan if you like, has become synonymous with a period of major spending. Not much different from the Ramadan shopping boom, it is a time when many businesses gear up for the influx of customers that will flow in with open wallets, hoping to prepare their kids for another school year.

In 2017, Zurich Insurance revealed that it would cost parents in the UAE $255,529 (AED 938,599) to get their children from pre-school to university.

A 2017 HSBC study found that the UAE’s school fees are second highest in the world, behind Hong Kong.

A recent study by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority revealed that school fees in Dubai range from $675 to $35,394 (AED 2,479 to AED 130,000).

Today, we will be looking at what you could be paying for your child this year.

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Tuition fees

During the 2017-2018 academic year, private schools in Dubai made an astounding $2.04 billion, according to the latest Dubai Private Education Landscape report by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). That sum is $190.5 million higher than last year’s.

According to the report, tuition fees average at $7,313 (AED 26,865) per year.

Parents can rest easy, however, as the Dubai Executive Council ordered a freeze of fees for the upcoming 2018-2019 academic year. Many schools have even reduced their fees to alleviate the burden on parents in the country.

In addition to Dubai’s 194 existing schools, 11 more have opened in the country this year offering an even larger selection for parents to pick from.

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Uniforms cost a fortune

According to a report by Gulf News, a set of school uniforms cost an average of about $545 to about $817 (AED 2000 to about AED 3000) annually per student in 2017, depending on the type of school, according to Gulf News.

To make matters worse, school uniform became taxable under the new VAT law at the turn of the year.

Books and supplies most expensive in the world

Similarly, school textbooks will also be taxed.

A study by United Global Educational Resources or UGER, a GCC-wide educational solutions provider, says that school supplies, which include everything from textbooks, uniforms, and stationery to lab equipment, playground resources, and digital tools, make up for 25-31% of a school’s costs which are either directly or indirectly passed on to students.

In fact, their findings show that the textbooks and other educational resource supplies in the region are the most expensive in the world.

“Textbooks cost at least 40-45% more while stationary comes at a 100-110% hike,” Dr. Jalal Al Hadhrami, chairman of UGER, told XPRESS.

It is difficult to come to an average regarding a book price average, as textbooks could vary wildly between $5.4 (20 AED) from a Bur Dubai bookshop to upwards of $68 (AED 250) for a new IGCSE textbook.

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According to the Road Transport Authority (RTA), only 12% of Dubai’s almost 300,000 school children travel daily to school by bus – meaning around 88% of children use private vehicles for the same journey.

One mother in Midrif told that it cost $164+ per month per child (AED 600+ per month per child) to register for the school bus service.

Field Trips

International school trips such as one to the US could cost about $4084 (AED 15,000) per student, one parent told Gulf News.

One could disregard such a trip as a luxury, one not many parents would send their children on.

However, even a local trip to the desert could cost about $41 (AED 150), the same parent explained.

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