dubai expat life

GEMS Education to open private schools in the UK

GEMS Education to open private schools in the UKDubai-based GEMS Education is planning to venture out in the UK by setting up private schools with fees at half the price of top schools in the country.

As reported by Arabian Business, GEMS intends to open six fee-paying day schools for boys and girls aged three to 18 in towns and cities across England over the next two years.

It is said that GEMS aims to charge parents between £8,000 and £12,000 a year – about half or a third of the price of some of the country’s leading public schools.

Mark Labovitch, chief executive officer of GEMS for the UK, Europe and Africa, said it was targeting “huge swaths” of the British middle classes who could not afford private school fees.

Fees for non-boarding pupils shot up by 27 percent in UK private schools between 2007 and 2011, according to data from the Independent Schools Council (ISC).

The location of the GEMS schools has not yet been finalised, but Labovitch told the paper there were parts of the country that were under-served by the number of private schools they had.

It should be noted that GEMS had some negative press in UAE when its fees sky rocketed some time back.

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Six Private Schools Ordered To Refund Fees

Follwing Dubai Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA)’s decision that Private schools should not collect tuition fees in advance, six private schools in Dubai have been ordered to refund tuition fees, collected in advance, after they continued to violate directives issued by education authorities.

Khaleej Times reported that two of these returned fees to parents on Thursday while the other four are expected to follow suit this week.

Institutions are, however, allowed to collect a registration deposit of five per cent of the school fees with a maximum of Dh500. Many parents have written to KHDA confirming their children’s schools had rectified the situation.

Parents of private schools maintained that schools were not heeding directives issued by education authorities.

Similarly, parents from Sharjah are complaining that their wards’ schools were demanding fees in advance.
However, the Sharjah Education Zone said it had not received any complaints from parents so far.

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More chaos with Dubai Modern High School

Dubai Modern High School wants to keep in the news. Apparently it is persistent with its move to new Dhs 200 Million campus, and subsequent fee hike.

The school issued a circular that it will be moving to its new Dh200 million site in Nad Al Sheba because there is no overwhelming support from parents to pay the fee increase at the old premises.

The circular stated that the move will be effected once all the necessary approvals from government authorities are given for the new building and the new fee structure.

A spokeswoman for the Global Education Management Systems (GEMS) said: “We have been listening very carefully to what parents have been saying and were prepared to sacrifice our move to the new building. But on Tuesday the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) told us that it would treat Dubai Modern High School at par with other schools if it remained at its current site and the current fee structure would have remained.”

GEMS has another trick up its sleeve

Despite Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) education authority’s announcement announcing that it will come out with a new fee structure for private schools, Dubai Modern High School run by the Global Education Management Systems (GEMS) has asked parents to vote for a fee increase so as to be considered as a? “special case”.

Khaleej Times reports that parents of students have been asked to vote in favour of a “unanimously agreed” fee increase to continue on the existing campus. Members of the parent committee have, however, denied that there was any unanimously agreed fee increase.

KHDA had said earlier that if the school continues on its present premises, it will have to comply with its decision on the fees, which will be on a par with other private schools. The school will be permitted to hike the fees only if it moves to the new premises at Nad Al Sheba.

However, the circular sent to the parents proposes a fee increase of 20 per cent for 2009-10 academic year and another 20 per cent for 2010-11.

The last date to vote was on Monday 9 so that GEMS could take up the issue with the KHDA. A spokesperson of GEMS told Khaleej Times that the parent’s feedback was being reviewed. “We have received the parents’ feedback to the survey and are currently reviewing it. Once the results are clear, we will communicate this as well as the steps taken to the parents of Dubai Modern High School (students).”

On Sunday, the parent committee of the school posted a parallel survey on the Facebook community they formed in January as a platform for airing their opinions. This survey provides a more comprehensive outline of the situation which the parents could consider before voting on the fee increase.

“We have also launched a confidence index on the community to allow parents to rate their confidence level in the school. Right now, it looks like that’s very low,” said Dipen Mehta, a parent committee member.

Another parent committee member also said the proposed fee increase was, in fact, not a collective agreement. “The parent committee will not decide on behalf of the entire parent body. We have not agreed upon this 20-20 per cent hike. Every parent will have to take this decision on his own,” he said.

Sale of New Premises Denied
THE Global Education Management Systems (GEMS), which runs Dubai Modern High School, has scotched rumours that the school’s proposed new premises in Nad Al Sheba have been sold off.

A GEMS spokesperson said on Monday that there has been speculation about the new site but “we would like to confirm that the site has not been sold off”.

The clarification came in response to a posting on the Facebook that the Nad Al Sheba premises, where the school is supposed to shift and which has been cited as the justification for a 90 per cent fee increase in two years, have been sold off.

“According to us, this is a scam to extort money,” said a parent, commenting on the posting on?the Facebook.

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Private Schools told to Refund Advance Fee

Private schools in Dubai that have collected tuition fees in advance have to refund the advance or risk facing licensing issues.

Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has reiterated its warning of last week, without going into the precise action it has in mind for continued refusal to comply.

Khaleej Times reports many parents have written to Khaleej Times to complain that some schools threaten forfeiture of seats if fees are not paid in advance.

Mohammed Darwish, Chief of Licensing and Customer Relations at KHDA, said in a statement to Khaleej Times: “The Licensing Department views very seriously the situation of the schools that deviate from the rules.

“Such schools are at the risk of their academic licence being affected.” Meanwhile, they have been allowed to make amends.

“Schools that have already managed to collect the advance fees, “Darwish said, “have been asked to return it to the parents and rectify the situation immediately to avoid any action.”

Schools are not allowed to take advanced fees but they may retain the registration deposit of 5 per cent of the school fees, up to a maximum of Dh 500.

Education Ministry’s bylaws are clear: schools may take fees only at the beginning of each semester or month. They cannot force the parents to pay fees in advance. KHDA remains in touch with individual schools to guard against continued defiance from some of the private schools in the emirate.

Parents lament that schools were giving them little choice. “I have already paid the first term fee as the school’s circular clearly states that if we do not pay now, a seat cannot be guaranteed for the next academic year,” said an Indian parent whose child studies at the International School of Choueifat, Dubai. The parent, who requested not to be named, said he had to pay nearly Dh 9000 to cover tuition and transport costs.

An Arab parent from the same school, also requesting anonymity. said, “We are usually given until mid-March to pay the fees and have to pay the second term fees at the beginning of the first term,” said

John Kassis, director of The International School of Choueifat, Abu Dhabi, maintained, “We are following the Ministry of Education’s regulations,” The director of the school in Dubai remained unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts to reach him.

Though Raffles International School (RIS) exempted parents from paying a re-registration fee, it told parents that seats would be secured after payment of the first instalment, along with two post-dated cheques. “The school does not seem to respect the government rules, or parents, when they ask us to pay right away,” said a British parent.

RIS stated in defence that it was adhering to KHDA regulations. “Raffles International Schools have a strong waiting list, and to ensure that seat allotment for the next academic year can be fairly and effectively streamlined, we have requested parents to re-register their students and to present post-dated cheques for the requisite fees, which is common local practice in the education sector,” they said in a written statement “The post-dated cheques will not be monetised till the new term begins, and they are being asked for only to ensure that the new admissions can be better managed.”

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GEMS Launches Education Insurance Scheme For School Fee Payments in Dubai

GEMS introduced an education insurance programme that assures funding of pupils’ tuition fees in the event of death or total disability of the family’s primary bread winner.

Himmat Sandhu, Director, School Business Operations and Administration, Global Education Management System Education (GEMS), said EduShield programme offers global coverage for the parent and a tuition fee payout facility anywhere in the world, without geographical restrictions.

The maximum payout is between $225,000 (Dh825,750) and $600,000 at annual premium of Dh375 to Dh575 respectively.

The customised education insurance programme is the result of a collaborated effort between Marsh Insco LLC, and GEMS Education.

Expats, already frustrated with GEMS and Dubai Education Authorities, will take this as another attempt to nick money out of parents.

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Parent Survey and Forum against Fee Hike at Dubai Modern High School

Parents are continuing their grievances against fee hike by Dubai Modern High School (managed by GEMS).

Pradeep (doing excellent coverage of Dubai Modern High School situation), gave links to online survey and Facebook forum at his blog. The links are:

Survey at Survey Monkey (only parents are requested to fill the survey form)
Facebook forum

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GEMS Managed schools raising tuition fees to new heights

Dubai Modern High School, a GEMS managed school, has released its fee structure for the academic sessions of 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, which shows an exponential raise in tuition fees.

Parents have complained that they don’t need bigger facilities or state-of-the-art swimming pools on the cost of such an exponential increase in fees, especially at this time of financial turmoil.

GEMS Managed schools raising tuition fees to new heights
GEMS Managed schools raising tuition fees to new heights

The GEMS managed school has seen a significant 90 per cent increase for over two years starting the academic year of 2009-10 and 2010-11, with each year witnessing a 45 per cent hike. The hike does not include other expenses such as transportation, food, uniform and books.

GEMS also increased the transportation charges last year up to 300 per cent, a move that did not go down well with the parents, in the wake of the global financial crisis.

A circular sent to parents from Dubai Modern High School yesterday stated: “Understandably, the move to a new campus implies an increase in school tuition fees.”

This infuriated parents more. One father who sounded furious said: “In just two years both of my children’s fee charges have gone up from Dh12,000 and now to Dh80,000 per year. How is that acceptable? Why should I bare the costs of relocating to a new campus?”

According to a statement sent to Gulf News, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority approved the new hikes.

Pradeep shares his frustration on this exorbiant fee hike by Dubai Modern High School:

There is unconfirmed news in the market that already about 6000 enrollment cancellation requests have been made to GEMS group schools in last one month. Recent survey by the group asking parents about their intentions to apply for TC somewhere confirms this.

This must be putting big strain on profits of GEMS group. When economy is down, people are losing jobs and prices are falling; GEMS group decided to punish the parents who entrusted their kids eduction to them. Dubai Modern Highschool decided to increase the fees in two installments taking the total increase to 110.25% by start of academic year in April 2010 (year on year increase of 45% doesn’t mean 90% in two years, local news papers like Gulf News need to learn this mathematics). This is nothing but polished pickpocketing. Last year from September 2008 they had anyways increased tranportation fees by about 300% under the disguise of higher oil prices. Since then oil has fallen by 70% but transportation fees remains same.

Economic laws clearly state that going up is always faster than falling down in terms of costs/prices. I am wondering how Federal Government is allowing such exhorbitant fees hikes in times when expats are anyway reeling under tremendous pressure to keep up themselves up and going in Emirates.