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Who Picks up the Bill for Your Children’s Education in Dubai

school-fees-in-dubaiAlmost Two Thirds of Expat Parents in UAE Pay Total Cost of Their Children’s Education

‘Full Expat Package’ Is Granted ‘Only To the Privileged Few’

One in Five Families Spend More than 30% of Their Household Income on School Fees

The strain that education imposes on expat family finances was revealed today with the publication today of a survey by, the UAE’s first dedicated school guide. 62 percent of respondents said that they cover the entire cost of their children’s school fees in the UAE. A further 24 percent receive a contribution from their company while just 13 percent have their school fees paid in full.

The survey was conducted on-line over a period of five weeks through March and April with 596 responses from parents around the UAE. 45 per cent of respondents live in Abu Dhabi, 43 percent in Dubai, 8 percent in Sharjah and the remainder spread through the other four emirates.

When asked whether the school fees paid represent ‘good value for the quality of school offering’, a key factor is whether parents pay fees themselves. 54 percent of those who have fees paid think those fees represent ‘good value’ while this falls to just 27 percent of those who pay in full themselves.  “The survey provides a snapshot of the major issues and concerns facing expat parents today,” said James Mullan, co-founder of “There’s a lot of material for parents, employers and schools to digest and discuss. Any family considering moving to the UAE should also find plenty of information which will help guide them in their decision.”

Almost one in five families spend more than 30 percent of their household income on school fees. This varies considerably, however, depending on particular school curricula. Those families spending 10 percent or less of their income on fees is 42 percent for Indian curriculum schools, 28 percent of International Baccalaureate (IB schools), 25 percent of British curriculum schools and 19 percent of American curriculum schools.

The good news for schools is that more than six in ten parents surveyed would recommend the school their children attend to other parents. Once again, though, there is a substantial differential in curricula with 70 percent of parents attending IB and/or British schools recommending their schools while just 49 percent of parents at Indian schools would do so.

The single most important criterion when choosing a school is ‘Qualifications of Teachers’ followed by ‘Choice of Curricula’. The third most popular choice is ‘Results in External Examinations’.

Not such good news for educators is the finding that 53 percent of parents have at some time thought about changing their child’s school. There is a very high correlation between academic performance and consideration of alternatives. Where parents are satisfied with academic performance very few parents think about changing schools (22 percent). Where parents are unsatisfied with academic performance they have almost universally thought about other schools (91 percent).

The full results of the survey can be found at

About has been conceived, devised and developed by a small group of professionals who recognised the urgent need for a dedicated, comprehensive website for expat parents in the UAE.

For further information please contact James Mullan, Co-Founder, on 050 455 9047, or go to

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