International schools in UAE made over $4.7bn in fees last year – report

The UAE had 627 English-medium, K-12 international schools as of end 2017

International schools in the UAE generated a combined income of $4.7bn from fees in the last year, between January 2017 to January 2018, a new report has found.

The sector has been booming in the country, with 627 English-medium, K-12 international schools having 631,661 students as of December 2017, according to the latest data from market research firm ISC Research.

The number of international schools in the UAE has grown by 6.3 per cent since 2013, while enrollment has risen 9.2 per cent over the same period, the report said.

A study conducted by HSBC last year revealed that the UAE has the second highest school fees in the world.

According to the study, it costs approximately $99,378 or Dhs365,025 to educate a child from primary school through to university in the Emirates.

Read more: UAE school fees second highest in the world – HSBC study

Looking ahead,  the report by ISC Research also found that the market for international schools in the UAE and across the wider Middle East is continuing to boom.

Regionally, the total number of schools reached 1,597 with a little over 1.1 million students as of end 2017.

The top destinations in the Middle East for international schools are the UAE, followed by Saudi Arabia (with 257), Qatar (166) and Turkey (118).

Also read: Revealed: Most and least expensive schools in Dubai

Nearly two thirds of Dubai schools can increase fees by 3.6% or more

The market in Saudi Arabia is expected to see greater growth in the future, once the law allowing 100 per cent foreign ownership of education comes into effect, the report added.

“The international schools market is not yet saturated as some believe; there remains a great opportunity especially in the mid-market, more affordable education sector; as well as for schools offering specialisations as SEN, sports or bilingual learning,” said Sarah Palmer, marketing and conference director, Tarsus F&E Middle East, organiser of education event GESS Dubai.

The international schools market in some key countries in the Middle East

Country Number of schools Number of students Key intelligence
Bahrain 59 53,000 Up to 55 per cent of the students in international schools in Bahrain are locals and 51 per cent of the international schools in Bahrain follow a UK curriculum
Egypt 198 113,000 While 86 per cent of the students attending international schools are Egyptian, 64 per cent of the schools follow the American style of curriculum
Kuwait 86 111,000 Nationals account for 64 per cent of all students at international schools in Kuwait. A UK curriculum is the most widely offered curriculum at international schools in Kuwait
Oman 72 67,000 Up to 52 per cent of the students in Oman are local and 53 per cent of international schools in the country follow a UK curriculum
Saudi Arabia 257 319,000 Saudi children make up 39 per cent of the student population at international schools in the kingdom. At 57 per cent, an American style of curriculum is the most widely offered by international schools
All data above is supplied by ISC Research