Up to DH4,000 per Child: Dubai Parents Concerned Over Early School Re-Enrolment Notice


Schools in Dubai have started issuing notifications to parents regarding re-enrolment for the upcoming academic year, with some schools charging up to Dh4,000 as re-registration fees per child.

This applies especially to schools rated ‘Very Good’ to ‘Outstanding’, varying according to the student’s grade.

Schools claim that early re-enrolment reminders enable them to accommodate and be equitable to the increasing number of families on their waiting lists. However, parents express uncertainty over their family’s circumstances by September, which would make it challenging for them to commit to early re-enrolment.

As per the emirate’s educational regulator, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), schools may ask parents to pay a non-refundable re-registration deposit to guarantee a place for their children for the following academic year.

However, this deposit cannot be more than five per cent of the total tuition fees or Dh500 (whichever is higher) and is deductible from the total tuition fees for the academic year.

The KHDA stated: “In the case of both existing and new students, the re-registration deposit will not be refunded unless there are extenuating circumstances. These circumstances include but are not limited to, evidence of family/student relocation to another country/emirate or any other unforeseen circumstance.”

Rationale behind early enrolments

Khaleej Times contacted a few schools and parents to explore the rationale behind these early enrolments and the concerns raised by families.

Victoria Lumby, senior vice-president – sales & enrolments, GEMS Education, said: “Places at all our schools are in greater demand than ever before, reflecting the confidence and trust our community places in the quality of education we provide. Early confirmation of the intention to re-enrol and newly enrol their children in school not only gives parents peace of mind, but it also helps schools with their classroom allocations, planning, and preparations for the year ahead.”

Therefore, headteachers stressed schools prioritise places for their existing students, with most asking families to confirm their re-enrolment intention for the 2024-25 academic year. “This allows us also to serve and be fair to the growing number of families on our waiting lists. The re-enrolment process is easy and takes only a matter of minutes.”

However, schools assure that they do recognise that circumstances may shift, and under existing procedures, if a family opts to leave the UAE at a later time, any deposits made to the school are refunded upon submission of necessary supporting documents.

“Naturally, we understand that plans can change, and as per regulatory guidelines and our own GEMS policy, should a family later decide to leave the UAE, any deposits paid to a school are refunded in full on presentation of supporting documentation. Our school teams are on hand to answer any questions parents may have,” Lumby added.

Strong re-enrolment projections

Meanwhile, some institutions claim up to 90 per cent re-enrolments for the next school year as most families expressed interest in continuing with their child’s existing school.

Gillian Hammond, principal of Repton School Dubai and chief education officer of Excella, said: “Re-registration at our school is an annual process that we commence at the beginning of Term 1. Parents seeking to re-enrol their children for the following academic year can do so, with the deadline for re-registrations falling on April 15.

“We are humbled by the trust placed in us by our parents. We have retained close to 90 per cent re-enrolments, which is a testament to our excellent student learning outcomes. We anticipate maintaining our strong record of re-enrolment”.

Principals stressed that they understand that relocating can be a challenging transition for the whole family. “If a family needs to relocate, we support them by offering a fee refund. Our parents are informed about the refund policies at the beginning of the academic year to ensure they have all the support they need during relocation.”

Challenges to early commitment

Meanwhile, parents express their challenges to commit to re-enrolling their child so far in advance, especially considering the possibility of relocating.

Romanian expat Alina Ardelean said: “The rents in Springs are rather steep, compelling us to contemplate a move towards Sustainable City. I’ve been thinking of switching my children’s school as well, as the one they currently attend is close to our current residence. However, if we relocate by September when our rental contract expires in August, I’ll need to seriously consider changing their school to minimise my children’s commute time.”

She added: “Since we are undecided at the moment, initiating re-enrolment at their current school now would entail a significant expense of approximately Dh8,000-10,000 for two children. This ties up funds that could be allocated elsewhere.”

Echoing similar concerns, Bhavya Rao, whose two children go to a premium British curriculum school, said: “While we have some potential neighbourhoods in mind, our plans for relocation aren’t finalised yet. Re-enrolling a child in school entails a significant financial commitment. If we pay the re-enrolment fee now to secure my children’s spot, I’m concerned about what would happen if we were to move later to a different location in Dubai. Would I lose the entire amount?”

She added: “Even if a family is not shifting, I would say schools use early re-enrolment deadlines to pressure parents into committing before they’ve had a chance to fully evaluate their options. Additionally, reclaiming this money from the school later may involve considerable effort.”

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