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Secrets of Expat Schooling in the UAE Revealed

For expats with children, one major concern when moving abroad is education. With many countries differing significantly not just in the quality of education on offer, but also the resulting qualifications, choosing the “best” school for your children while living in a foreign country can be problematic to say the least.

The problem is of course even more extreme in situations where the native tongue is different to your own; meaning that sending your children to a locally-run school may just be out of the question.

It is for all these reasons that many expats opt to send their children to so-called “international schools” which teach primarily in English and mimic international educational standards. Indeed, in many cases these schools and universities are international-extensions of well-known establishments in the UK and USA. Such international schools may even allow for international movement, with secondments available around the world to offer an even better-rounded education.

The problem, is that such schooling rarely comes cheap. The new survey, by WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, aims to reveal a little more about the secret world of expatriate education and who exactly pays for these expensive international schools. The results make for some fascinating reading…

As it turns out it is expats in Abu Dhabi who are most likely to have their employer pay for their expensive school fees. The survey suggests that 18% of expats working in Abu Dhabi have an expat expenses package that covers school fees, while just over 16% of those in Dubai benefitted from a similar arrangement.

Even more interestingly the survey reveals which types of schools are most likely to be funded by employers. As it turns out, English-speaking international schools are the most likely to be paid for by an employer, while Indian curriculum schools are the least likely. Quite what this says is a different matter; is the reason for this disparity more to do with the costs of these different schools or the negotiations of English-speaking expats versus their Indian-speaking colleagues?

Lastly the survey shows that the higher the salary of expats in the UAE the more likely their expat expenses package is likely to cover school fees. Those at the lower end of the salary range are significantly less likely to have their schooling paid for by an employer.

It seems that a rift is therefore forming among expats in the United Arab Emirates; at the top end salaries are still riding high and school fees are being paid by employers. At the other end of the scale not only are salaries lower, but in addition many expats here have to factor in the considerable costs of private schooling. This can further eat into their disposable income which, as reported last month, is encouraging a considerable number of expats to consider leaving the UAE altogether.

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