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Abu Dhabi school re-credits extra fees after Adec intervention.

Summary: Parents have welcomed the Abu Dhabi Education Council's (Adec) intervention to stop a private school from charging them thousands of dirhams in extra fees and refund them last year's unauthorised tuition increase, with some parents frustrated at the school's tactics.

Parents have welcomed the Abu Dhabi Education Council's (Adec) intervention to stop a private school from charging them thousands of dirhams in extra fees and refund them last year's unauthorised tuition increase, with some parents frustrated at the school's tactics.

"It's about time. They keep doing this to us," said an Australian mum whose two kids go to the British International School Abu Dhabi (BISAD). Last month, school principal Lesley-Ann Wallace sent a memo to parents informing them of the revised fee structure for 2013-2014, which included a non-refundable entry fee of Dh2,500 for Foundation Stage 1 and Dh9,000 for other new students. The school also wanted to charge Dh2,000 as a facilities fee for "building maintenance and upgrade".

"We are undertaking a significant financial investment in the school over the next two years. It has previously been our intention to invoice parents for one fixed fee, including not only tuition, but a facility fee and administrative charges associated with school costs. This has been our rationale applying for overall fee increases," the memo explained. Parents called the "money-making" scheme an attempt to pass on to them the cost of facilities that "should have been there before".

Another parent complained that tuition fees at BISAD were already high. "We don't need extra charges," he said, noting that another British school has renovated its facilities recently but has not charged parents for it.

Parents were also unhappy with the timing of the announcement late last month, when everyone had already enrolled at the school this year, leaving them no alternative option. "They suddenly implemented it. So even if parents want to move now, they can't," said the Australian parent.

"Last year, they increased the fees and said it is subject for approval. We paid it even though (it was) not approved by Adec. They said it was just a matter of time. They charged us before they got the approval," said another UK parent.

In her latest memo on Sunday, Wallace explained the new charges. "The fee schedule intended to support further investment into the school in order to build a premium sporting facility, including a 25-metre indoor swimming pool and indoor gymnasium. In addition, our intention was to add another 500 school spaces to meet the demand for school places in the city and develop our second floor with additional premium and contemporary learning spaces."

Wallace wrote on Sunday that parents' accounts would be readjusted. "This re-credit will ensure that the fees you pay are compliant with Adec's regulations and we will continue to work with Adec to strategise for the future to ensure fee structures support continued investment. The school has always worked in partnership with Adec to understand the process for fee increases and charges and will fully comply with Adec's regulations and approved fees." -olivia@khaleejtimes.com

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Sep 2, 2013
Words:529
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