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Management in private universities

It is painful to put extra liability on the students

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16th-Apr-2019       
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Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed :
The concept of private university in Bangladesh has become popular due to the decadent politics, terrorism, censure of the session, narrowing the expectations of growing higher education in the country's public universities. Besides, it has reduced the flow of affluent students who want to go abroad for study.
Private universities have made many successes in a short span of time to meet the demands of higher education. However, there are also some failures. The time has come to go ahead with the unlimited possibilities of meeting the needs of higher education at the private level. The highest Constitutional statutory body of university education management, "University Grants Commission in Bangladesh" identifies the priority sector in the management of private universities and the need to revise the steps taken in this regard have been demanded. The changed conditions of the 21st Century make matters worse.
The first step among the steps taken by the UGC was the temporary approval of private universities. Temporary sanctioned universities are also given a short timeframe to ensure that they have to build permanent campus within the next five years. For this, one acre in Dhaka, two acres in Chattogram and other areas of the country will have to build permanent campus in five acres. They have identified universities in green, yellow and red on the basis of success-failure to achieve this goal. Grant Commission has threatened to stop enrollment of students only in five years, and not to be identified in green, yellow and red colour, but to achieve this goal within five years of permanent campus. Most of the universities could not fulfill this requirement for very reasonable reasons. Because only five years in the construction of a university's permanent infrastructure is very rare and not pragmatic.
It is difficult to build real infrastructure even in a school in such a short time. Universities are established for thousands of years to survive. They are not to destroy. The world's famous universities have taken hundreds of years to come to the present stage. Private universities in Bangladesh are like a child in their lifecycle. It is a big mistake to think of adults and impose adult responsibility on their necks. There is no meaning for binding a short span of just 5 years for building a permanent campus.
In absolute terms there has been an impressive quantitative expansion in the general university education even though the rate of increase in Science and Technology Sector in not significant. There is no objection to such increase in line with population increase and increase in primary and secondary level output. But the crux of the problem is that such increase always does not correspond to the needs, required infrastructure, faculty and financial facilities.
Library and Laboratory conditions are not conducive for quality education. There is no denying the fact that the use of library facilities by students and teachers have declined over the years. The teachers in most cases seem to rely on particular texts and the students seem to possess increasingly poorer language ability to comprehend and explore the vast expanse of scholarship that the libraries hold. The libraries are poor as they lack adequate resources to buy recent publications and order for the basic journals. Likewise, the laboratories suffer from inadequacy of equipment. Import dependence for such items have made the problems much more complex.
Most of the faculty members at private universities either possess grad or post-grad degrees from renowned universities overseas or are visiting faculty members from public universities, though that may not be the case all the time. For instance, many professors from DU, IBA and BUET regularly conduct classes at the various departments in private universities in Dhaka. In such cases, students of private universities are essentially learning the same material from the same teachers as public university students, or from otherwise qualified teachers who are experts in their fields. It proves the well production of skillful teachers from our public universities who are capable of changing the atmosphere of public universities as well.
According to a university's calculator, making a permanent campus accordingly and reducing the relocation of it, the matter of investing between 400 and 500 crores is to invest. But where does the money come from? According to the Private University Act-2010, the sources of income of the universities are grants-in-aid to the philanthropists, organizations or donors, loans and loans of government or any other financial institution, salary of students, internal income and any other sources approved by the Commission.
The matter is that no one here comes to donate and there is no direct income except for the wages of students. As a result, there is no way out of debt if you want to work for any development. It is extremely difficult and unrealistic to carry a loan of 500 crores for a child organization. It is a matter of regret that when the cost of private universities comes, then the students have to bear the expenditure. On contrary, the public universities and colleges are spending lakhs of taka per student free of cost for free education, the government is providing permanent funding of these universities and colleges with their own money. It is painful to put extra liability on private university students in the construction of permanent campus; when they are struggling to get regular education.
The UGC does not talk about the quality of curriculum and syllabus operated in different academic programs. The country does not think of establishing the Accreditation Council. According to the rules of the private university law, this is what they have to do. But at the same time they have no attention. They do not care about the inclusion of technology in the classroom and the automation system. They do not have any issues about importing new ideas from abroad and how they can be implemented in our country's context. Their headlines are just about building or campus. The people only hear their warning sometimes that the students cannot be admitted to the institutions, not at the campus. They never see the quality of the internal structure of the universities. These are very sad signs for a nation to lag behind in higher education.
If our country thinks that as a nation, education will be the main topic in all the agenda, if they believe that education is the backbone of the nation, if they think that school-college-madrasa-university has any role to develop for the whole nation, by doing so, the future generation of the country must be educated and skillful. It is time to take up the above mentioned issues. There is no scope for division between private and public. And these things must be worked out, not by imposing authoritarian rules on private universities like external, but by being in the center of the universities and by prioritizing them with the priorities of the most important issues.

(Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed, Writer, Researchers & Columnist)

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