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Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Fairs for a fee in Dubai

It’s not surprising that in a place openly promoting materialism and wealth as its raison d’etre, that if you want to talk to students about future studies, you’ll have to pay.

Doing a school fair, a long-standing tradition among recruiters keen on direct marketing to a class of would-be foreign students, now commonly comes at a cost in the United Arab Emirates.

High school students are resources which higher education institutions want to tap, and ever increasingly, schools are loathe to give those resources away for free (and not much is for free in the UAE). A fee of between 500 to 1,000 dirhams (between 150 and 300 USD) has become the norm, if you want to get access to students at their school.

The practice has also created new market players who act as middle men to organize school fairs, charging participants, collect fees and and splitting the revenues with the school management. Varsity Connection and Edvensys are two of the more active agents in this business in the UAE. However, since more schools are now handling the fee-for-participation concept themselves, in typical UAE business fashion, the middle men are being turfed in favour of larger profits.

The fairs for a fee have had success. Winchester School, Our Own English High School, and Our Own High School, are all schools where keen students have applied to foreign institutions who paid to be present at fairs at those institutions.

However, schools that do not charge a fee for their annual fairs are still the best bets. Sharjah American International School,  Al Mawakeb School and Dubai International school, are just three. These schools have very active career counsellors, and take pride on being out front in offering quality guidance to their students.

Fee or no fee, there is still no better method of marketing institutions and creating awareness than by meeting students directly.

Ms. Firdous Sait, Manager at the Canadian University Application Centre Dubai, is a graduate of Bangalore University, India, with a Masters in Communication and a Bachelor of Science. Since 2004, the Higher-Edge office is located in the Dubai Knowledge Village.

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