Iqama renewal and rise in fees worry expatriates

Iqama renewal and rise in fees worry expatriates
Updated 27 August 2012

Iqama renewal and rise in fees worry expatriates

Iqama renewal and rise in fees worry expatriates

Renewal of their guardian’s iqama and exorbitant school fees are the major issues that worry most expatriate students when the new school year begins after the Eid vacation in the Kingdom.
Private schools accept expatriate students only if their parents’ iqamas are valid and not close to the expiry date. Many government schools do not accept expatriate students at all. According to a local media report, the Ministry of Education has issued a circular that foreign students above eight should not be admitted to government schools.
“To ensure a seat in local schools is becoming more and more difficult, particularly for expatriate parents. Private schools are raising their fees beyond affordable levels,” Syrian expatriate Abdullah Al-Banwi said.
He said another major obstacle faced by non-Saudi students is “linking of the validity period of a parent’s iqama to the school term of his son or daughter. If the validity date expires, the student will not be allowed to attend classes until its renewal.” The iqama renewal takes a long period in some cases, he added. Sometimes, a parent may have to seek the help of an influential person for the continuation of his son’s or daughter’s study, he said.
A Yemeni expatriate, Ahmed Al-Khidri, said he received a notification from his son’s school in the middle of the year that he should renew his iqama or else his son would not be allowed to continue at the school. “Luckily, I got my identity papers renewed in a week and avoided my son being thrown out of his school,” he said.
Arab News could not get a clarification on the interruption of a student’s study in the middle of the year if the validity of his or her father’s iqama expires. Schools do not even wait the normal time required for the completion of the renewal procedures. Parents whose iqamas are under the renewal process during the school registration time face the same problem.
The other worrying problem is the trend of private schools to hike registration and tuition fees to exorbitant levels. Foreign parents have no other recourse but to send their children to private schools, as many government schools do not accept them.
“School fees are a nightmare for every expatriate parent, especially when most foreigners have no other choice but to depend on private schools. They demand higher rates on various pretexts,” said Mustafa Shami, a Syrian worker. He said he has three children at different school levels, paying SR 13,000 for his eldest son, SR 9,000 for his second and SR7,500 for his youngest son annually.
School authorities raise fees despite the warning issued by the Ministry of Education not long ago that it would not permit unjustifiable increase in school fees.
Al-Watan daily quoted Director General of Private and Foreign School Education at the ministry Muhammad Al-Otaiby as saying that private schools do not have the right to demand higher fees from students without the prior approval of the ministry, and the schools violating this regulation will be punished.