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Expatriate Health Insurance News: Expats appalled at rising school reservation fees in Saudi Arabia

Expatriates in Saudi Arabia are becoming more and more exasperated by the fees being charged to reserve places at international schools for children.

It is a non-refundable amount and has been increasing in recent years with some establishments charging as much as 3,000 riyals (£529) up to six months before the school year begins, reports the Arab News.

Some schools have defended the practice by saying that the fees are needed to hire teachers in proportion to the number of children who will be attending and purchase materials for the coming year.

But many expats find the fees extortionate and it can easily add up if a family has two or more children of school age.

Further to this, the nature of the expat lifestyle is that many do not know if they will still be in the country by the time school starts, with the chance of work taking them to another location.

Taco Gerritsen, a Dutch expat who paid 2,000 riyals to enrol his son at the Jeddah Prep and Grammar School, said that he thought the fees weren't entirely fair.

He told the news provider: "You're actually paying for a service you may not make use of."

Dammes Ledeboer, business manager at the British International School, said that the practice is widespread among private schools and that it rarely receives complaints about the non-refundable fees.

He also went on to say that the amount is then deducted from the fees charged for the first term that the child is in classes.

This means it is only those expats who move on to a different country who lose out in the long run.

Jeddah Knowledge School is one international school that does not charge a reservation fee, but insists that the first of three instalments be paid by the April prior to the beginning of the school year in September.

This means that the place is not blocked for other children on the waiting list, but could essentially leave parents out of pocket.

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