Dubai school fees forcing expats into cheaper homes

Published:  5 Jul at 6 PM
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Summer in the UAE traditionally sees large numbers of expats packing up and relocating, with soaring school fees helping to make the decision either to leave or move to a smaller rental property.

The already high cost of Dubai’s international school education for expat children is about to increase still further due to the government’s permission raising fees for the next school year by 4.8 per cent, resulting in expat schooling costs since the 2011/2012 school year soaring by around 30 per cent. Although expats in the UAE receive attractive salaries and packages, the cost of education has always accounted for a high proportion of the average expat family’s annual expenditure.

Even before the next school year’s increases, formerly highly sought after postings in Dubai were losing their gloss, dampening down the demand for larger luxury villas and apartments. Nowadays, expat packages tend not to provide for international-level schooling or full healthcare benefits for dependent children, although healthcare insurance for employees is now compulsory. For professionals from Western first-world countries with free or heavily subsidised heathcare provisions and equally free, high-quality education, even tax-free salaries may not stretch as far as is required.

For those who don’t want to relocate, the way forward seems to be linked to the fall in property rental prices over the past several years. Many highly-paid parents are now choosing to rent rather than buy a home, with developers responding by building affordable, smaller homes in suburban locations. The new housing estates now include primary schools once demand is established, although many expat parents are sceptical about the quality of education provided. Popular, already established schools with great reputations charge huge fees as well as having long waiting lists requiring a charge in advance with no guarantee of a place.

Given the UAE’s robust economy, it’s unlikely to lose its popularity with expat professionals, especially as the currency is pegged to the US dollar, thus giving increased spending power. It’s to be hoped the Dubai authorities are aware of the problems caused by soaring school fees which continue to increase as pupils grow older. Policymakers need to restructure the fees schedule or risk the emirate losing its prime position in the world of global talent.

Source: Khaleez Times
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