Will School Bus Fees Increase for 2022-23?

Will School Bus Fees Increase for 2022-23?


Following the recent UAE fuel price hikes, in line with the global trend, school transport operators are having to consider whether this significant cost increase will need to be passed on to parents with an increase in school bus fees for the 2022-23 academic year. The UAE government set the price of diesel and petrol at more than Dh4 ($1) per litre for the month of June.

While transportation services operated by Dubai schools directly are not permitted to raise fees this year, in line with the KHDA’s decision to freeze for-profit school fees, outsourced school transport services do not fall under the same requirements. In its School Fees Framework, the KHDA states:

“This framework is not applicable for services outsourced by the school or provided by third parties, that are optional for the parents, and which are governed by other Government Authorities”.

For Dubai, this means that the decision to increase school transportation fees will largely lie with the outsourced transportation providers, which make up a significant portion of school transport in the emirate.

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com spoke to Steve Burnell, Managing Director of STS Group, which currently provides school transportation for more than 80,000 students across the emirates, working with a range of schools. Mr Burnell expressed an intention for this rise in costs to be be absorbed and not passed on to parents, but without certainty on further fuel price increases, he admitted that certainty on this is not something that school bus providers can currently offer.

Mr Burnell explained:

“All businesses involved with transportation, including school bus services, have been affected by the recent well-publicised global rises in fuel costs among other aspects of their operations. At STS Group, we will continue to do our best to absorb these added costs and will continue to keep our community informed of any changes in our fees.”

Some Abu Dhabi and Sharjah schools report have made requests to ADEK and SPEA respectively to increase their school transportation fees for the coming academic year, with one Abu Dhabi school head stating:

“We have been left with no option but to put in a request to ADEK to increase our bus fees. It will otherwise be a huge additional expenditure for the school, with us running into losses.”

While the hike in fuel prices has sparked conversations about transitioning to buses using biofuels, several schools and transport providers have expressed frustration at the suggestion that this is in some way a solution to the immediate financial squeeze. While this would be a positive environmental move, the costs of this transition would likely be vast.

The decision instead, is simply whether bus operators can feasibly shoulder the costs incurred in the rise in fuel costs or whether they will have to pass this increase on to parents. Most operators are currently watching and waiting before communicating plans for the year ahead.

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