Education costs and school fees in particular are one of the key considerations for parents before moving to Dubai. In the pre-VAT era, the schools were permitted to increase their fees by up to double the Education Cost index (ECI). This meant rising school fees annually. As the VAT introduction approached, on 7 June 2018, the Dubai Executive Council announced there will be a school fee freeze for private schools in Dubai for the academic year 2018 – 2019.
Further in a tweet by the Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council it was said "We ordered an immediate freeze on the tuition fees of all private schools in Dubai for the coming academic year (2018-2019), in order to reduce the financial burden on parents".
This was making history as before this schools were permitted to increase the fees and now this was going to change.
So what happens now? This unwelcome change has brought in a whole new set of challenges for the schools . They have to offer the same value to children and parents, maintaining premium staff and school management at previous year's budgets. Schools simply cannot "afford" to let standards slip as the competition in education sector is stiff in the region.
At an operational level this challenge also meant that the staff need to do more at the same salary. It also meant that the hiring for schools has slowed down as costs need to be managed. The support teams took the hit of doing more with lesser resources.
At the service level, schools have to offer great if not good service at each point in journey to the customers, namely parents and students to keep them returning year after year.
Looking at the challenge on hand with cost cuts and do more with current staff at hand, the staff burn-out is but natural. If the staff is overworked, unhappy and dissatisfied, the service levels will naturally take a hit.
So where is the silver lining over these dark clouds? Like it is often said, crisis often brings opportunity along with it, likewise the education sector should look at other sectors for creative ways to solve the problems.
Schools are not a novice in using outsourcing, in fact, they outsource many services like bus services, catering, extra curricular activities and more.
In my recent post "Schools Stand to Gain a Winning Edge by Outsourcing" I delve into why schools need to outsource administration and in particular the support of the Admissions role.
The school administrators play an integral role to ensure that the schools function smoothly and are involved in nearly all aspects of school's operation. Their role is over-loaded with responsibilities and is often overlooked as it is a generalist position that is a bridge between the school and the community.
If the trend of the school-fee freeze continues into next academic year, schools will need to re-look into allocating their resources creatively and one of the best ways to manage costs and improve operational efficiency is look at outsourcing the non-core services.