On 28 January 2021, we held an event at Dubai College to launch the findings of our study into how and why families choose schools in the dynamic, competitive private schools market of Dubai.

More than 80 school leaders and education experts registered to hear Russell Speirs, RSAcademics’ CEO and founder, describe the characteristics of 1,000+ families who completed a joiners’ survey in September 2020. He then went on to explain the different processes they used to find a school and why they chose the one they did for their child.

One of the most interesting findings is that “personal recommendation” was the single, most influential source of information that helped parents make their choice, although many acknowledged that the school visit and the school’s rating from KHDA (Knowledge and Human Development Authority) were helpful in confirming their views.


Dan Lewis, former CEO of RSAcademics International, then chaired an expert panel discussion of some of the key topics. Ashwin Assomull, of L.E.K. Consulting, confirmed one of the key findings of the study which is that Dubai is now a more mature, localised market, rather than an ex-pat transitory one, with long-staying families making this their home.

Gemma Wild, of HSBC, shared her expertise on company remuneration packages in a very interesting discussion about the changes in fee allowances in the market. Ross Barfoot, Partner at Clyde & Co, confirmed the power of word of mouth in Dubai, as our research has shown personal recommendation and reputation to be the most influential sources of information. James MacDonald, of the Al-Futtaim Education Foundation, discussed the need for schools to explain their specific curriculum clearly to parents and to engage with them more about their children’s learning.

Commenting on the event, Russell said:

“It has been really exciting to analyse the complexities of the Dubai market in which over 200 schools educate children who have come from virtually every country in the world. We thank the 14 schools who participated in the study and hope that all the school leaders here will benefit from what we have shared.”

“How and Why Families Choose Schools in Dubai” is now available as a free digital download. Complete the form below to access your copy.