New criteria laid about by Qatar’s Supreme Education Council (SEC) would give parents and children enrolled in private schools the ability to influence the body’s decision to allow tuition increases.
Yesterday, the SEC set out a new, five-point plan for assessing requests to raise tuition hikes, in an effort to create a “scientific and transparent” system.
All private schools in Qatar are required to submit a request to the SEC for approval if they wish to increase their fees. If a school announces fee rises without permission, its license could be revoked.
In a statement, the SEC’s director of Private Schools Office, Hamad Mohammed Al Ghali, said that school applications would now be judged according to the following criteria:
- The current level of tuition fees and surcharges, previous fees and the number of times a school was granted permission to increase fees in recent years;
- Parents and pupils’ assessments of their teachers;
- The financial situation of the school;
- How well schools have filled out the SEC fee increase application form; and
- The school’s accreditation status.
School Report Cards
The SEC did not give details on how it would collect parents’ and pupils’ feedback on their teachers, and was not immediately available for comment.
However, the council does create and manage Report Cards for 257 independent, private Arabic and some international schools in Qatar.
These cards, designed for use by parents selecting schools, record an individual school’s current academic performance and assess how it has performed over recent years and against other similar schools.
The reports include parents’ and students’ views on the school, its curriculum, teaching approaches, activities and services.
In his statement, Al Ghali admitted that the new criteria was introduced in response to school pressure to meet increased costs. However, he warned that fee increases should be “gradual” and must remain in line with inflation:
“The Council seeks to adopt a gradual increase in school fees low rates based on the quality of education and on the basis of reasonable increases in costs, that corresponds to the average increase in fees with inflation rates in the state.”
Private school tuition fees vary substantially across Qatar. British curriculum schools have fees of between QR30,000 to QR50,000, and added registration and administration costs.
The Indian Birla Public School tuition fees are just over QR10,000 a year for secondary pupils, while the American School of Doha (ASD) charges parents more than QR67,000 a year in fees at secondary level.
Last year, the SEC was criticized for refusing fee increases for all but a few private schools. Prominent British School Doha College was permitted to raise its fees by 12 percent last year, although this may have been connected to the opening of the school’s new campus in West Bay last September.
School place shortage
The new rules come as Qatar faces a crunch in school places. In January of this year, many private schools in Qatar were ordered by the SEC to make sure their class sizes did not exceed 30 pupils.
This forced many of Doha’s Indian schools – which had been following the Indian Central Board of Secondary Education limits of 40 children per class – to close their admissions.
This has raised concerns among parents that schools will raise their fees in a bid to make up the shortfall.
Elsewhere, other private schools in Doha said they have received thousands of applications for only dozens of spots for the fall.
Ashghal is trying to tackle the problem by building more schools, but there appears to be no solution in the short term.
The shortage of places appears to having a knock-on effect in terms of recruitment to Qatar, with those working on major development projects here saying it’s been harder to attract high-skilled expats here due to this problem.
Any thoughts on the new rules?
i think SEC should re-think and roll out major policy changes like this over a period of time and give time for existing schools to expand, and new schools to set up with some concessions/loans otherwise the children (the next generation) will get affected.
So if parents are happy with a school and the teaching – it’s okay to raise the fees? Rubbish! I also like the condition about ‘how well they fill in the SEC application form’. Ahem – they are SCHOOLS – if they cannot fill in an application form correctly – then perhaps they shouldn’t be in the business of teaching?
Is the use of hearts to dot the ‘i’ a bonus? Maybe a picture of a rainbow. Much better than a boring one with just writing.
Haha. You beat me to it.
To doodle or not to doodle, that is the question.
School fees are so high that turn education into a greedy unethical system.
In countries where there is a lot of choice and public schools are of high level in fact, you don’t see this, because education is considered a right for all and that’s why you cannot increase fees this much. Here it is all about money, money, money.
Here they can get away with it because there are not a lot of school and people get desperate to find a place for their kids.
At first glance this sounds like it could be a terrible impediment to improving the quality of schooling in Qatar. Wouldn’t it make more sense to make it easier (rather than harder) for schools to do their job. If you are going to starve them of funding they are going to have to reduce costs and very probably quality. Wouldn’t it make more sense to decrease the obstacles to setting up new schools and then let the market decide for itself?
I know what parents response would be in case they take their opinion every time they hike fee.
The SCE and SHC should be concentrating on allowing more schools and hospitals to open, and providing a full rating system of the services they offer. Municipality should concentrate on providing housing.
In a discussion with a friend who came here in 2000, he remembers the population was 600,000… Now, it’s over 2,000,000 … It will probably be between 4 and 6 million in the next 10 years. We remembered how people thought the parking lot would be empty when city center opened, how new malls get filled, and stay filled.
Any new school will be fully booked, any new hospital will not have enough beds.
School fees are a secondary issues, if we had 1000 schools some of them will compete on price, and be much cheaper than others.
Why don’t you get elected to government you have a sensible view on all this.
I’m not interested in being responsible for the failure of others…
Agreed. There are SO many other more important issues than the school fees right now — like building more schools and increasing the number of doctors and medical facilities here for the current and projected population… If there are enough school spaces in quality educational organizations, then families can’t be gouged financially because the schools will have to be competitively priced if they hope to survive. Start there.
Why are you expanding so much? 300 k or so citizens ?
For private schools there is no solution where everyone is happy:
1) teacher salaries increase, rents increase which means that schools need to increase fees
2) parents want to pay as little as possible for schooling
At the moment not enough schools are open to meet a fast-growing population, so if the SEC lets schools set fees as they want fees will shoot up!
But to attract investors you need to show that fees are not set in stone and increase over time, otherwise no sane investor will be interested in opening a new school.
So its a balancing act: how much increase is fair for both parents and schools?
As a parent I’m happy to pay a bit more each year in line with inflation etc. but I would like SEC to reflect the quality of my child’s school – I’m happier to pay more for a better school!
Indeed. I can accept increases in fees if it is reflected directly in the quality of teachers coming in the door, classroom facilities, school environment.
But the idea that lack of school places should be a reason to raise fees is abhorrent and should never be supported.
The SEC is a total joke of a department; you get the impression of entrenched, inflexible views, terrible organisation, and layers of pointless bureaucracy…and that’s just from having to fill in a spectacularly pointless and amateur online survey for them every year……..I can’t imagine what it’s like inside their fancy new HQ, other than being populated by millions of minions and ‘headless chicken’ policymakers.
How about transparency in schools’ budgets. Is the increase justified because of high expenses or just because the school wants to make more money?
Also, the problem is not more buildings but qualified teachers and qualified school administrators. No need for all the fancy infrastructures, imacs, ipads, iWhatever, when you have good dedicated teachers …
Private schools are run as a business and should be free to set their own fees. If you don’t like the fees send your child somewhere else. The SEC is inconsistent. How can one school be alowed to increase their fees by 12% and others not st all? Any right minded parent is not going to vote for a fee increase. This will result in quality teachers being paid less and so leaving or not coming to Qatar in the first place. As for building more schools, who will staff them? Expats wont send their children to state schools because the curriculum is in Arabic and the standard of teaching is low. If you want good teachers, good schools and a quality education then you have to pay for it. If you were to send your child to a private school in the UK you would pay far more and your salary would be less than here in Qatar. If you pay peanuts you will get monkeys and that is what will happen. The SEC should stop interfering or provide a realistic alternative to private fee paying schools.