Skip to main content

Private education facing hurdles in Qatar: report

Students immersed in studies in a Qatar school
Doha, (Qatar): Qatar’s tough regulations and high set-up costs are discouraging private firms from opening schools here, a new education report has found. This eye-opening data was revealed by investment bank Alpen Capital’s latest GCC Education Industry Report.

Another gap points out by the report is that there is a dearth of capacity to meet demand for quality education in Qatar.

As the influx of expats will trigger population rise rapidly as part of the several mega-infrastructure projects ahead of the 2022 World Cup and eventually the competition will be fierce for highly coveted school places. The report forecasts that the number of pupils enrolling in private schools in Qatar will rise by between 30 to 40 percent in the next five years.

This rise in demand for places is partly due to the increasing expat population, but also comes as the average Qatari family decides to spend more on children’s education, and utilizes the expanding voucher program to place their kids in private school. The development and expansion of Qatar’s education system is one of the cornerstones of the National Vision 2030. Qatar has been working to increase the number of schools in the country, but the pace has been slow.

The report cites a number of issues facing private operators who would like to open schools in the Gulf region, including a shortage of skilled teachers and government control on fee hikes combined with the fact that it is a capital intensive industry.

Qatar Development Bank (QDB) and the SEC have tried to encourage international investors with planned schemes such as 15-year education loan with subsidized interest rates of 3 to 4 percent to those looking to set up schools, the report said. However, it noted that investors into Qatar’s education market are cautious, and in 2012, there were no venture capital investments in the sector.

This is partly because of the high cost of setting up a business in the country,the report stated. While Qatar is encouraging more of its younger population to become entrepreneurs, it added that ”a tough regulatory environment is posing challenges in the industry.”

As a non-Qatari, setting up a business in the state can be a long and complicated process. While the government did announce some imminent changes to the commercial register, which may make it easier for entrepreneurs in the country, a number of hurdles are likely to remain.

Other key challenges facing Qatar, and the wider GCC education market, include:

· Shortage of skilled staff: Rising inflation across the region makes it more expensive to hire qualified staff to teach in the schools. Also, with a high turnover of teachers in the region – the average tenure is three years – staff need to be constantly replaced.

· Fee caps: Many Gulf governments have put a cap on the fees private schools can charge, which limits their ability to get new staff and improve facilities. Qatar’s SEC has tried to address this issue by recently introducing a new system of assessment of schools applications to increase fees.

· High set-up costs: Rising real estate prices, salaries and visa expenses mean that initial set-up costs for an international school are high. The report estimates that funds of between $50 to $100 million are needed to set up an international school in the region.

Expanding market

In March, the government announced that it is currently working to open 85 new schools in the coming 18 months. Whether the private schools that will be built are enough to accommodate the growing population remains to be seen. According to Alpen’s report, Qatar’s private school market was worth $433 million, based on annual tuition fees.

And half of all enrollment rates in Qatar in 2012 were in private schools – one of the highest rates in the region. And overall, Qatar is predicted to have the highest increase regionally in terms of the total number of student enrollments by 2020.

Still, compared to the UAE, Qatar has far fewer international schools. While Qatar is estimated to have 130 international schools to serve its population of 2.2 million (and growing), Dubai alone has 233 international schools for its population of 2.3 million.


The report also highlights a number of emerging trends in education in the region.

In Qatar, as in the rest of the GCC, it appears that British curriculum schools are particularly sought after. While half of Qatar’s private schools offer the Qatari curriculum, nearly one third (31 percent) run on UK-supplied curricula. This trend is likely to continue, the report stated.

Meanwhile, investment in special needs education was flagged as a particular area of demand. Teacher training programs and specialists in curriculum design are also highly sough after.

Additionally, governments in the region are now requesting the establishment of new “smart schools” that are equipped with the latest technology. Meanwhile, at a university level, there is a renewed focus on upgrading research and innovation abilities.

Other growth areas are vocational training, finishing schools, child-skill enhancement, and e-learning.

Related stories- Alpen Capital reports:

Popular posts from this blog

Cisco to train Omani graduates in Amsterdam

Muscat, (Oman): Cisco Systems has announced it is to select graduates from colleges and universities in Oman for a two-year training abroad, Muscat Daily , an English Daily from Oman, has reported.

This is part of Cisco mission of helping Oman to utilise its potential in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector through its training programmes. “We will receive applications till the end of this month and the shortlisted candidates will be interviewed in May. Those selected will begin their training in Amsterdam in July,” said Iyad al Chammat, general manager of Cisco Systems in Yemen, Oman and Afghanistan. The company is also offering a six-month internship programme in Oman for third and fourth year students, he said.

“In Oman, we are paying back to the community through our academies. We have 20 academies in the sultanate, including those at the Sultan Qaboos University, Higher College of Technology, and CAS,” Chammat said.

Al Chammat also noted that Cisco has 20 ac…

Astronomy in the Arab world discussed at AUS

Sharjah, (UAE): American University of Sharjah (AUS) held a high-impact seminar entitled Steps for an Arab Astronomy Renaissance at its campus on May 14, 2014. The event, which was held in partnership with Nature Publishing Group (NPG) and the Dubai Astronomy Group (DAG), drew a large audience comprising students, faculty members, university officials as well as members of the public.

The seminar, which was hosted by Mohammed Yahia—editor ofNature Middle East and a prominent science journalist who also represented Nature Arabic Edition, a scientific publication in Arabic by Nature Publishing Group—was a follow up on the article on the state of Arab astronomy published earlier in Nature by Dr. Nidhal Guessoum, Professor of Physics and Associate Dean, College of Arts and Science. The event featured a number of exciting presentations, including an engaging review of the state of Arab astronomy by Dr. Guessoum.

Commenting on the importance of seminars such as these throughout the region, Ya…

Second Pakistani University opens in UAE

RAS AL KHAIMAH, (UAE): One more Pakistani University has started its operations in Ras Al Khaimah with a mission to provide good quality affordable education for Pakistani families living in UAE. Name as “Abasyn University”, the new educational platform will offer degree courses to the 800 to 1,000 pupils who comes out of Pakistani high schools in the UAE every year.

Previously Szabist University in Dubai was the only Pakistani university in the emirates. Abasyn’s Ras Al Khaimah centre is its overseas branch campus. As a famed brand in Pakistan, the Abasyn University has campuses in Peshawar and Islamabad. Abasyn University is considered to be more affordable as it charges only Dh1,200 a month. This makes it more affordable than Szabist which charges Dh1,900, and Abasyn is significantly cheaper than other institutions.

On average, university fees in the UAE start at about Dh25,000 a year. However, for anything science or engineering based, costs can rise to more than Dh45,000.The…