Regulation of private schools
‘Federal Decree Law No. 18 of 2020 on Private Education’ (PDF, 4056 KB, available in Arabic only) organises the educational process in the UAE’s private schools. It regulates the licensing of private schools, the approval of educational curricula and the safety of students.
Article 11 of the Decree Law outlines certain obligations that private schools must comply with. The obligations include:
Further, private schools cannot raise or change educational fees or add extra fees to its activities unless it has the approval of MOE or the local education authority first.
They must have a policy for student affairs that includes equality and non-discrimination, professional treatment of students and parents, and a supportive environment for students of determination i.e. students with mental or physical disabilities.
School management is responsible for keeping the students safe during the academic day, whether they are inside the school, on its facilities, on buses or outside its premises while being engaged in any of the school’s activities.
Schools must comply with the unified Code of Conduct issued by MoE, or other local education authority.
The law mentions fines and penalties for violating its provisions.
Licensing a private school in the Northern Emirates
Ministry of Education is responsible for licensing private schools in the UAE (except in the emirates Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah). The following are the conditions required to be met for issuing a licence for a new school:
Requirements for a private school
These are the requirements to be followed by a private school that is applying for a licence.
The school’s location should be suitable for the required activities as per the related executive regulation
The school building should be suitable for educational and training activities and compliant with all health, safety and security conditions
School business shall be limited to related educational and training activities.
Conditions to be met by the applicant
These are the requirements to be followed by an applicant applying to set up a private school.
The applicant has to be a UAE citizen
His age should not be less than 25 years
He must have full civil capacity
He should not have been sentenced to prison for a misdemeanour or a dishonouring or distrust crime, unless he/she is redressed according to law
He has to be able to pay financial liabilities of the school.
Conditions to be met by national companies seeking to establish private educational institutes
- The share of citizen partners should not be less than 51 per cent
- The applicant company has to be registered with the competent official authority
- Its place of business has to be inside the UAE
- Objectives of the company has to include development of educational and training activities
- The applicant company has to be able to pay financial liabilities of the school
Licensing a private school in Abu Dhabi
Department of Education and Knowledge is responsible for licensing schools in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. For more information about private school licensing in Abu Dhabi refer to 'Organising Regulations of Private Schools in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi'- In Arabic (PDF- 27813 KB).
Licensing a private school in Dubai
Knowledge and Human Development Authority is responsible for licensing private schools in the emirate. Learn more about registration of private schools in the emirate of Dubai at the following links:
Licensing higher educational institutes
Ministry of Education is responsible for licensing higher educational institutes in all emirates. Licensing higher educational institutes is subject to the following conditions:
- Approval of the competent authority in each emirate (i.e. KHDA in Dubai and Department of Education and Knowledge in Abu Dhabi)
- Security approval by the competent authority
- Fulfilling standards required for the licence.
The application for licensing higher educational institutes goes through some phases. They are:
- Creating an account on the MOE website to fill in the application form online
- Studying the application by the MOE
- Holding a meeting with the officials from the educational institutes
- An external committee will visit and evaluate the education institute
- An evaluation report will be made and sent to the institute
- The institute will reply to the committee report
- If recommendations of the committee are not applied, the report will be returned to the institute again
- The institute will reply to the committee after fulfilling all recommendations
- A letter of recommendation for licensing will be sent to the deputy minister’s office.