Many Dubai schools more expensive than UK universities

You may be surprised to read a headline saying that UK universities are now cheaper than many Dubai-based “Good” and “Outstanding” rated by the local regulator middle and high schools. However, there is a number of facts to support such statement.

Last week, precisely on Monday, January 21st, we visited a small education-dedicated exhibition held at the Holiday Inn Al Barsha. A handful of universities’ representatives were at the event patiently explaining to prospective students how to apply to and what to expect from the respectful academic institutions. Among them were the fifty years old University of East Anglia, Richmond (The American University in London), The American College of Greece, Swiss Les Roches International School of Hotels Management and Glion Institute of Higher Education.

As you most probably have read or heard somewhere, as of 2012, nearly 30% of the world’s top 10 universities list is occupied by UK universities with the rest claimed by US-based institutions. Many people across the world are firmly convinced that universities in the United Kingdom provide world class education that costs a fortune. We were no exception of the case until the last Monday when we have found out that contrary to the popular belief, attending university and receiving a graduate diploma is now cheaper in the UK than attending a “good” high school in Dubai.

As shocking as this statement may sound to some, a research made by a local website was published on the Internet just few days later saying the same in other words.

In many, particular British and American schools in Dubai, tuition fees for a year range from US$20,000 (AED73,000) to $28,000 (AED100,000). This is the range for middle and high school fees. Apart from the annual tuition fee, parents often must pay extra sums for admission or entry exam, which for example at Repton Dubai is AED1000 despite that places at the school are always available and acceptance criterion is very flexible. In addition to the school fees, there are other expenses on extra-curricular, transport and medical activities, that can all together ad up to about 20% extra.

Repton schoolsOne of the most expensive schools is Repton Dubai. There the tuition fee for a high school students can reach to more than AED 100,000. Meanwhile, the KHDA annual inspection report of the last year gave Repton’s high school “acceptable” ratings, while parents say very few students reach to university. A report from this year rates all over math education in the emirate bellow international average.


At present, a full academic year in well established UK university can cost you about AED85,000 on the high end.

At the The American College of Greece, the tuition fee and the boarding cost all together around AED65,000.

Only universities in Switzerland are now costlier. This is perfectly understandable as the country tops all international rankings for competitiveness, living standards and safety.

In Dubai, parents whose kids are in high school, often need to take loans from the banks. Also, sometimes, English families prefer to return to the UK once their children finish primary school. That is because high schools in Dubai are more expensive to go to than British universities, even for UK citizens. For foreign students universities in the Kingdom charge even higher fees.

Many parents, whose kids study in Dubai, complain that quality of education Dubai schools provide does not justify the high fees.

During the university exhibition, it was stressed to us that Dubai students should first go through a foundation year ahead of the university years in the UK in order to come to the same level as UK high school graduates. This is a very disturbing perspective, as it suggests additional cost to already overpriced high schooling and competitiveness on academic level.

At present, the tuition fees Dubai schools demand follow a framework set by the Knowledge and Development Authority. Schools can raise their fees to match their ratings. However, KHDA approves exemptions to this rules and allows some schools to hike the fees more than it was initially stated.

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