Curing the ills of private universities

Md. Atikur Rahman | Published: May 26, 2018 00:35:39



he number of students in Bangladesh is increasing day by day. There is no alternative to private universities to bring these additional students to the higher education level. In view of the advanced world, it is very interesting to look at private universities. There are many famous private universities that are ideal for the whole world. Our belief is that Bangladesh will reach there one day.

After the Liberation War the private universities started coming into being in Bangladesh. These universities are contributing to the country's economy by creating numerous graduates. The concerned people should keep in mind that private universities are performing an important duty. Earlier, many people went abroad for higher education. With quality educational institutions available here, the students are now getting higher education in the country. As a result, the country's foreign exchange reserve is being saved. But the prospects of private universities in the country have been diminished because of continuous negative publicity. The country's campuses will lose importance, if foreign universities are allowed in the country.

The idea of common people to study at private universities means a lot of money. But many universities take tuition fees considering the financial ability of low-income families. There are complaints about the standard of education at some private universities, but most private universities are trying their best to teach quality education, which is positive. The universities concerned should address the complaints leveled against them. The University Grants Commission (UGC), the Ministry of Education and the government policymakers should be more careful about these universities.

In a notification the UGC cautioned students against enrolment at private universities having illegal outer campuses and disputed ownership and running on court orders after being rejected by the commission. The commission will publish advertisements in dailies cautioning students against enrolment, the commission pointed out.

Detailed information about troubled private universities would also be available on the UGC website, the commission said.  The commission, the supervising body of higher education in Bangladesh, cautioned a million students waiting to enroll at higher educational institutions.

If a student gets enrolled at an unapproved university or at the illegal outer campus of an approved university the UGC or the Ministry of Education would not take their responsibility, said the notice. The notice also said 91 universities out of a total of 101 approved so far are in operation in Bangladesh.

Of all the private universities in operation, 31 have no vice-chancellors, 71 have no pro-VCs while 47 institutions have no treasurers, appointed by the President, also chancellor of all private universities.

The notice said that the commission cautioned students about enrolling with the branch of any foreign universities, study centres as the government has not approved any such educational centres.

The first private university was established in 1992.  Currently, about 400 thousand (four lakh) students are enrolled at private universities and in 2017 more than 100 thousand students enrolled at these educational institutions.

It is evident from the UGC notice that the education of 100 thousand students studying at these private universities will be at risk. Who will take its responsibility? That's a big question now. Therefore, before taking any final decision, it is more important to take necessary steps to protect these 100 thousand students. Does anyone have the right to ruin the education of nearly 100 thousand students studying at private universities?

In this case, the private university authorities should take visible initiatives both in the short and long terms to overcome the difficulties.

 Although this is true, there has been repeatedly a question about the quality of higher education due to the lack of skilled teachers and quality research apart from business interest and political influence. Therefore, we should not only increase the number of universities but also ensure the quality of education. It is also true that the number of higher educational institutions in the country is very low compared to the proportion of the population. In order to increase the quality of higher education, teachers should hone their creativity. In order to achieve the desired value, an university will have to take initiatives to stop the development of any discipline without syllabus moderation and libraries available for students. It should be sincere about the mother tongue. Higher education should be in Bangla. It is unfortunate to note that teachers are more interested in getting their research works published in foreign journals, not locally. This mentality should be shun. There should be a balance between the number of students and the number of teachers.

The UGC, the private university's supervising institute, sends a letter to an institute and there ends its responsibility. But there should be follow-up on it. Although in charge of monitoring private universities, the UGC authorities do not visit them once in every year. Seizing this opportunity, some private universities enroll students with scores below the standard of 2.50 points without following the criteria.

Only one per cent of the government's budget has been allocated for higher education. The allocation should be increased to raise the standard of education. Private universities are not an alternative to public universities. Complementary to each other, it is necessary to increase the area of cooperation between the two types of universities. But in many cases, the UGC spends long time addressing a small problem. They have to come out of this trend. They should identify the problems on a priority basis and find solutions.

It is to be remembered that the access to education is the 'people's fundamental rights'. At a private university, now at least a million students are getting the opportunities of higher education. So, solving the existing problems will help raise the quality of education at private universities. Apart from enforcement of the related law, it is more urgent to extend the hand of sincerity and cooperation towards them. In the past, whenever the commission took any action against any university, they continued their operation with an order from the court. Resultantly, the problem just compounded. Therefore, all the people involved with the higher education system should be more sincere about the quality.

In this case, the government, the UGC and the media must play a constructive role in raising the number of standard universities.


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