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Defaulted School Fees An Issue Say Dubai Schools

Defaulted School Fees An Issue Say Dubai Schools

Several schools across Dubai claim parents are delaying and defaulting on their school fee commitments.

The news comes in spite of the Parent/School Contracts (PSC) which outline precisely how and when each parent should pay their school fees.

According to the Gulf News, schools have resorted to ‘naming and shaming,’ the student and refusing services, which parents believe to be ‘insensitive.’

However, Dubai’s schools are claiming they are being forced to write off large sums of money as parents delay and refuse to pay.

According to the PSC, schools cannot remove a student from school for unpaid fees, however they can withhold results.

According to the publication, one Asian school in the city has had to write off millions over the years.

A spokesperson for the school told Gulf News, “we do withhold the result from the parent, but the result has to be prepared and submitted to the authorities. In the case of parents of very young children up to grade two — who do not require a Transfer Certificate (TC) if they are relocating back to their country — they suddenly take the child out of school towards the end of the academic year and we are left with fees pending for the entire year.”

 

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WhichSchoolAdvisor.com spoke to Chris McDermott, principal at Oaktree Primary School Dubai about the issue and his thoughts on how parents should approach their school should they experience financial difficulties.

“This is a very difficult issue, both for schools and for parents,” said McDermott. “There are no simple solutions, because if the money is not available for the parents, then they simply cannot pay the fees.”

“Yet, at the same time, the school cannot function as a business and, whether we like it or not, all private schools are businesses, if it does not have an income.”

He went on to say, “I have worked as a Principal in Dubai for five and a half years and cannot offer a simple solution, but can reflect on the principles that have helped me to avoid, as far as a can, a scenario which means the child is excluded from school. This does not, of course, mean that children have not been excluded, but it does mean that these exclusions have been kept to a minimum.”

McDermott believes parents experiencing financial difficulties and the schools dealing with them, should communicate and work-out a payment solution.

He says, “communication and honesty on both sides is the key; if a family are having financial difficulties, then they must let the school know as soon as possible.”

“It is important, from the parent’s point of view, that the person in the school making the decision has the authority to carry it out i.e. if a payment plan is being suggested, then this payment plan has to have been approved by the principal.”

“Flexibility, within limits, helps,” he went on, “so, for example, the school may agree a payment plan with individual families. This means that monies can be paid over a period of time, rather than at once; in doing this the school needs to be careful that this does not become the norm, because it needs to manage its own cash flow situation.”

“On both sides, and particularly on the parents’ side, it is important not to over-promise and under-deliver. If a family reaches an agreement with the school in terms of managed payments, it is important that the dates, terms and conditions are adhered to.”

Mcdermott also advocates that the child should not be brought into the issue, nor ‘shamed,’ over fees.

“Avoid any embarrassment to the child. The world is constructed by adults, not by children. Children have to inhabit the world that we have created for them. No child should be placed in a situation where they are embarrassed in front of their peers because fees have not been paid. Sometimes it is not possible to avoid all difficulties for the child, but these can be kept to a minimum by the sensitive handling of situations by the adults involved.”

 

Clive Pierrepont communications director at Taaleem also advocates immediate communication with the school, should issues arise.

“Some of our parents do experience financial difficulties and we are very sympathetic to their plight. The advice to our parents is to inform us of any worries as early as possible and keep communication open so that we can deal with any difficulty on a case by case basis and work with them towards a solution,” he said.

“The education of our students is our prime concern and we wish to alleviate any potential embarrassment that short-term economic challenges may bring to our families,” he said.

“We have a responsibility to support our parents, they have supported us throughout the years and we will help them as far as we can and within guidelines given by The Department of Students at the KHDA.”

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