UAE has highest number of international schools in region

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The UAE has the highest number of international schools in the region, and the second-highest in the world, at 624.

The relaxing of visa rules and hosting of mega-events will further boost these numbers, a report has said.

At Alpen Capital’s Education Webinar on Monday, experts said the need for quality education by the expatriate population as well as aspiring citizens is fuelling the demand for British, American, Indian, IB, Canadian, French, and German curricula schools

They added that mega-events such as Expo 2020 Dubai, along with long-term visas and relaxation in FDI guidelines, are set to boost the region’s attractiveness and encourage expatriates to not only live and work but also study in the region.

The observations, which were later released in the GCC Education Industry Report 2021, states that the influx of global schools continues to push the education sector among GCC nations.

Krishna Dhanak, Executive Director, Alpen Capital (ME) Ltd, said: “The unprecedented efforts taken by the industry stakeholders and governments during Covid-19 have led to a prioritization of long-term growth strategies at a macro level.

“The GCC education sector continues to be fragmented with several sizes and types of operators catering to a wide population with varied preferences. In the GCC, KSA and the UAE allocated about 19 and 15 per cent of their total budgets on education, which was higher than in countries like the USA and the UK.

“Enrolments in the pre-primary segment grew at a much faster pace, which was higher than the world average. Consequently, the industry witnessed healthy M&A activity over the last two years, with several nations strongly advocating privatization and others opening up the sector for foreign ownership.

“As the education landscape continues to mature in the region, we believe that the recent developments in its geopolitical relations, supplemented by a post-pandemic economic recovery and government initiatives and policy changes, will result in new investment avenues for investors across the sector,” Dhanak added.

Tahir Mahmood, Head of Business Development, Nasdaq Dubai, said, “Government’s initiatives to boost the education landscape will spur growth. Each of these governments has national transformational initiatives and all of them aim to improve enrolment levels and privatization initiatives by the governments that will also boost the education sector.”

PPP operators

The region and the UAE are evolving as a hub for tertiary education. GCC governments as well as private players are looking at providing quality tertiary education, primarily to retain talent and to make the region self-sufficient.

This, experts reiterate, will lead to the arrival of PPP operators across the region.

Ivor McGettigan – Partner – Al Tamimi & Company, says, “PPP(Private-Public partnerships) is looking to be the preferred model for the delivery of education in the region. In the UAE we have Dubai schools which were announced recently.”

Alongside, the establishment of branches of renowned universities in the region along with the appeal and safety to enrol closer to home is also expected to drive enrollments.

“The region is bringing in regulations for long-term visas for residents as well as 100 per cent FDI for many sectors, including education. We are waiting at the Emirates’ level to issue the procedures for that and it’s set to happen”, adds McGettigan.