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UAE: UK teacher shortage could stymie school growth

International schools in the UAE could be affected by a predicted teacher shortage in the UK despite the substantial growth trajectory the country’s international school market is currently enjoying, according to the International School Consultancy.

Uptown School Dubai, UAE. Photo: International School Consultancy.

With 548 institutions, it's three schools ahead of China

The UAE continues to lead the way in the number of English-medium international schools worldwide, says ISC’s latest market intelligence report. With 548 institutions, it’s three schools ahead of China.

But, almost half (47%) of international schools in the UAE teach an English curriculum leaving expansion plans vulnerable to any shortages in quality teaching staff from the UK, the report warns.

“Some of the Emirates are now requiring candidates to have very specific degrees”

Nalini Cook, Middle East regional consultant for ISC Research, attributed two causes for the predicted fall in UK curriculum trained staff: less competitive teacher salaries in the UAE and the UK itself experiencing a teacher shortage.

Recruiting and maintaining quality teaching staff is a momentous task for international schools globally. Diane Jacoutot, managing director of Edvectus, an international school recruitment company, said the short supply of UK teachers has provoked some schools to start recruiting as early as November for the next academic year.

“As an added challenge, some of the Emirates are now requiring candidates to have very specific degrees, which do not match what the UK is producing, narrowing the field even further,” she said advising schools that “a strategic approach is imperative.”

The report adds that declining oil prices could also stump growth in the market. It notes that many schools are seeing expatriates enrol without employers providing full funds for the fees.

“Many companies in the oil and gas industry have covered or contributed to the cost of school fees for the children of staff and these companies may have to cut back on such expenses,” noted Cook. “This may cause school fees to stabilise or come down over the next two years.”

According to ISC research, there are 518,500 students enrolled in international schools in the UAE as of January, an increase of 64,500 from the year before.

Overall, enrolment in UAE’s international schools from January 2011 to January this year has increased by 86%.

“This new demographic … has supplied an increasing demand for excellent international schools there”

The majority of these schools are situated in Dubai, which has 260, and Abu Dhabi, the location of 191 schools.

Another 14 are under construction, due to open this year.

Despite the opaque future for expansion, the report does forecast growth in the market, pegging for the first time the Northern Emirates, with only 29 schools, as the area presenting the most opportunities.

The growth in this region is driven by a shortage of premium accredited educational provision as well as the increasing cost of living in Dubai, said Cook.

More expatriates are living in the Northern Emirates of Sharjah, Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah, where housing and schooling is cheaper than in the rest of the country, and it is still possible to commute to work in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

“This new demographic, alongside the continually expanding local population, has supplied an increasing demand for excellent international schools there and this looks set to continue,” she said.

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9 Responses to UAE: UK teacher shortage could stymie school growth

  1. It seems that the focus is on recruiting British teachers. It may be time to look beyond the limits of one particular country to recruit and see very well qualified and exceptional teachers who come from other countries. I am disappointed that such a narrow minded perspective is being used. If you want British schools call them such but don’t use the word ‘international’.

  2. Teacher shortage in the UAE

    I agree with this article and and would like to know why salaries in the UAE are so low? There is definitely enough money.
    Another problem is the degree requirements; Since when does a degree makes you a better teacher than one with a Teachers Certificate? In some countries schools advertise and praise themselves for having teachers with degrees only. Ridiculous bragging!
    Then there is the IB/PYP system being sold as the only and best. Not all children can learn in one specific way and especially in the Primary school, children should not be exposed to computers. They need reading and writing, as it develop their creativity and reasoning skills. There are certain brain functions that can only develop with reading and writing, which are being ignored with computers. Computers are anyway bad for their eyes, body structure and many other.
    In Primary school, children must have sport and learn using all kinds of methods, but many clever people write school programs nowadays, selling it as the best, because they make money as well as the computer companies.
    The brains that made computers, laser surgery, space craft and other did not have computers. The brain must develop using old school methods.

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