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Putting the private universities on the right track

22 November 2022


Dr. Md. Enamul Hoque :
Under the Private University Act 1992 and later the newly enacted Private University Act 2010, a number of 107 private universities have been founded across the country to expand the quality higher education; however except a few, most of them turned into a liability and unwelcoming burden in the education system. It is often estimated that private universities enroll around 60 percent students of the higher education sector of Bangladesh  study in the private universities as the number of seats in the 50 public universities are fewer than actual  needs.
In spite of being the highest places of learning, very unfortunately, the quality of education in most of the private universities is very sub-standard. Therefore, graduates coming out of the private universities can hardly play an important role in the transformation of the country's youth generation into a skilled workforce by making them efficient in all fields of science, arts and technology.
So, the come-up of private universities has given an alternative opportunity for coping up with the expanding demand of higher education in our country. But, when it comes to quality of education they are providing, with the exception of a few universities, there are many allegations against the others universities who are blamed for making degrees easy to get and education a toy. Thus, the maximum private universities create unemployment problems by producing a large number of so-called higher educated youths who are lacked in subject knowledge, communication skills, and moral values.
The educationists and academicians have always blamed the private universities for lowering the quality of higher education in the country. No doubt, the growing levels of private universities has resulted in a greater access but has made an alarming distress in the quality of the education.
The reasons of poor quality of education in the private universities are manifolds.  However, the poor evaluation system of students' achievement is seriously horrifying. As per newspaper reports, many universities confer degrees without giving proper exams or tests to students. The teachers unfairly evaluate each student's performance and give higher score for the sake of higher getting GPA.
Due to the defenseless evaluation system, teachers discloses the questions earlier to the students which to be answered in the tests. There is almost no system of question paper moderation in the private universities. It is also true that the part time teachers are the main workforce of the most of the private universities who hardly take any responsibility of the students' success as they stay short time in the campus and maintain very temporary relationship with their learners.
There are other factors responsible for this poor condition of education. Teachers' proficiency, basic facilities, and curriculum are the fundamental elements of quality education. All these existing elements in the private universities are criticized on different forums. According to the Private University Act 2010, the private university must have an adequate number of permanent teachers, classrooms, libraries, laboratories, seminar rooms, and office rooms, separate common rooms for students and other necessary rooms, and adequate space.
It is quite difficult to come to a conclusion regarding the quality of education in private universities as it depends on a lot of factors like the faculty, infrastructure, cost, counseling and many others. There are some private universities which do not have their own campus. They are situated in the rented commercial buildings or markets. Most of the private university authorities established university for the purpose of business. Keeping it in mind, private university tuition fee is charged 5-10 times higher than at a public university. However, the quality   of   education   provided by these private   universities   has been questioned.
The job-providers and authorities involved in appointment in public and private sectors unanimously agree with the perception that the candidates from the private universities seriously lack in subject knowledge, critical thinking, general knowledge, communication skills, and confidence. So, in most of the cases, the appointing authority become unwilling to appoint them in the post applied for. The job-providers are very confident in their comment as they frequently get in touch with students from different universities- both public and private, in different interviews and competitive job exams where they get to judge the students.
There is a common say in this country that private universities are commercializing higher education rather than providing good and quality of education. However, some private universities in Bangladesh are providing world class education and certain facilities like credit transfer system which is not available even in the public universities. Apart from this, they are getting recognized internationally for their explicit achievements.
The government and the UGC must come forward to stop certificate business and monitor the private universities more closely to help maintain academic standard. Let us remember- "Education without quality is valueless. All should work concertedly to ensure that higher education is not a certificate-based program", said President Md. Abdul Hamid.

(The writer is educational researcher and teacher educator).

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