Boarding schools versus international schools for expat children in UAE

Published:  24 Apr at 6 PM
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Gone are the days when almost all expat professionals working in the UAE sent their children to overseas boarding schools, but are the emirate’s international schools a better and cheaper option?

Although boarding schools are no longer a necessity for expat parents wanting the best education for their kids, it’s a fact that one attraction of an overseas education is the freedom it gives to its students and their parents compared with the restrictions of living in the UAE. Surprisingly, a UK boarding school education can also give value for money, although average UAE international school education fees are comparatively inexpensive.

One factor to take into account when costing out the two options is the sterling exchange rate, its recent fall and the strong likelihood of further falls as Brexit draws nearer. Another is that, in the Emirates, school fees only cover education, with extra charges for activities, uniforms, books, trips and other necessities, driving up the total charge for education to degree level to around a million Dh. Recent news that Dubai private schools are to increase their charges by between 2.4 and 4.8 per cent this year is causing many expat parents to look overseas for their children’s education.

Expat kids, it seems, are mostly in favour of being sent to an overseas boarding school as it gives them more independence and freedom to be themselves than would be possible in the UAE. Mixing with their peers from many different countries is a big attraction, as is the fact they no longer have to rely on their parents to drive them to and from socialising with their friends. The recent British Boarding Schools Show at the Mall of the Emirates was attended by a good number of interested parties and showcased no fewer than 36 British boarding schools including Dulwich College and Bedales.

Annual costs range between £30,000 and £40,000, but include tuition, accommodation, school trips, meals, laundry and more, leaving parents to find only the costs of flights and pocket money. Overall, parents who attended the show believe the extra cost of boarding isn’t unreasonable considering the quality of what’s provided, and the knowledge that their youngsters are getting a top-class education is a major bonus.

Source: The National
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