Choosing to send a child to to an overseas boarding school is not a new trend. In the 1970s and ‘80s, it was the norm for western expat children whose parents were working in the UAE, and some Emirati offspring, to attend boarding school once they reached secondary school age.
But the cost of a private eduction overseas does not always compare favourably with the UAE.
The cost of private boarding school in the UK, for example, spiralled in recent years to an annual average of £30,369 (Dh135,951) according to a 2015 study by private client stockbroker Killik & Co. And the average day school fees are now 342 per cent higher than they were in 1990.
In the US, the average annual boarding school tuition is US$38,850 according to College Bound Network.
British state boarding schools are an option for EU passport holders, but with the fee covering boarding only and not tuition.
“This makes it a very cost- effective option,” says Sarah Sparling, a consultant with British boarding schools specialists Anderson Education.
She says those looking for a fully private education can also apply for a scholarship.
“They are available for talented academic students and for sport, music, art, drama; and bursaries are also available which provide a discount on the school fees. With the current exchange rate in the UAE, this is a good value option to provide the best educational opportunities for your children.”
Syliva Brett, head teacher at Harrogate Ladies College in Yorkshire, showcased her school at Anderson Education’s recent UK Boarding Schools Exhibition in Dubai.
“We have always had pupils at Harrogate Ladies’ College from the UAE, but we expect this to increase in the coming year as expats are faced with some uncertainty concerning their employment and long- term stability in the region,” she says.
But although private schooling in the UK can be pricey, for parents the costs can be offset further down the line when their offspring start at university.
They are more likely to receive “home status” if their children have already been residing in the UK for at least two years.
According to topuniversities.com the average cost per year to study in the UK at undergraduate level as an international student is £11,987, whereas those who qualify for ‘home status’ pay a maximum of £9,000 per year for undergraduate degree programmes.
* Jessica Hill