The demand of English-language international schools is continuing to expand in the UAE despite challenging economic conditions, a report by ISC Research has found.
A total of 17 new schools are expected to open in the UAE for the 2018-2019 academic year, 13 of which are located in Dubai.
In terms of total number of schools, the UAE led all countries in the Middle East with 624 international schools, up from 596 last year.
Saudi came next with 257, followed by Qatar with 166.
Overall, the number of international schools in the region has grown from 1,159 in 2013 to 1593 in 2018, according to the data from ISC Research, released ahead of the forthcoming IPSEF Middle East Forum in Dubai.
The report also found that 1.513 million students are attending international schools in the region, each paying an average of $7,658 annually for their education.
“The growth of the international schools’ market in the Middle East further confirms the role education plays in the development agenda of governments in the region,” said Rhona Greenhill, co-founder of IPSEF.
“A number of initiatives have been set in place to enable private companies to establish local branches or independently set-up international schools and help support the growth of the education sector as a whole in this part of the world.”
ISC Research Schools director Richard Gaskell added: “Most of the demand for international schools in the Middle East is currently focused on the mid-price international schools that are affordable to the majority of professional expatriates and more affluent local families.
“The market in the Middle East, particularly in the UAE, continues to expand,” he added.
A study conducted by HSBC last year revealed that the UAE has the second highest school fees in the world.
According to the report, it costs approximately $99,378 or Dhs365,025 to educate a child from primary school through to university in the emirates.
In June, figures published by Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) also showed that private school earnings rose Dhs700m ($190.5m) in the 2017/2018 academic year compared to the previous academic year.
Schools earned a total of Dhs7.5bn compared to Dhs6.8bn in 2016/2017.
This came after schools were given permission to increase fees by 2.4 to 4.8 per cent for the 2017/2018 academic year based on performance.
However, government authorities recently announced that school fees would be frozen for the 2018-2019 year amid cost of living concerns from parents.