Dhaka, Bangladesh
Private universities outside Dhaka

Private universities outside Dhaka

The government should form a taskforce that will examine shifting of the private universities and medical colleges outside Dhaka to make the Dhaka a livable city. A growing number of private universities and medical colleges have been set up in the Dhaka city haphazardly. The unplanned setting up of private universities at Dhanmondi and Banani cause immense sufferings to the local city dwellers. The government can also give some tax incentives to the private universities and medical colleges if those are set up at towns of northern and southern part of the country. The University Grants Commission (UGC) can make a guideline for the private universities and medical colleges for setting up of higher educational institutions in Rajshahi, Rangpur, Bogra, Chapainawabganj, Barisal, Khulan and Sylhet with residential facilities. At least 30 private universities have been set up at Dhanmondi and Banani residential areas. The movement of cars, rickshaws and three wheelers causes nagging traffic jam at Dhanmondi and Banani residential areas. The full-fledged residential facilities at the private universities will give a boost to the northern and south parts of the country. The spending of students and teachers will boost the economy of the northern and southern parts of the country. The growth of the private university system in Bangladesh can be attributed to the failure of public universities The University Grants Commission’s recommendation to embed UGC representatives in day to day private university operations is an impractical idea that benefits no one — not students, not teachers, not the overall state of education. As things stand, private universities are already subject to government monitoring, and no good can come of amending the law to allow government reps in finance and teacher recruitment committees, mandating UGC approval when setting student fees, or in embedding observers in trustee boards. Let us be clear: While there is indeed a crisis in our educational system, private universities are not the problem — they are part of the solution to a problem created largely by public universities. Indeed, the growth of the private university system in Bangladesh can be attributed to the failure of public universities to provide a high quality education — it is no secret that our large public universities, no matter how prestigious, are bogged down by session jams, student politics, and inadequate infrastructure. If the government is serious about doing something to improve education, it would be better off in paying attention to public universities, and fixing some of the problems that have plagued them for decades. Top ranked private universities of Bangladesh have done the nation a great service, but the move towards further UGC intervention will only make matters worse, and make it harder for private universities keep their standards high. However one chooses to look at it, the inclusion of UGC reps in private institutions is a bad idea. There are other sectors, such as state-owned banks and other state-owned enterprises, which do constantly flout regulations and are in actual need of government oversight. Diverting government resources to go after private universities is a futile endeavour. According to University Grants Commission, about 4,100 honours and post-graduation level seats were vacant in 2016-2017 sessions in public universities — an increase by three times from 1615 seats vacant in 2014-15 session. Against this backdrop, another 11 new public universities are in the pipeline and of them 10 are in the outlying districts. Academicians have blamed hasty and unplanned opening of higher seats of learning without creating the needed infrastructure and recruiting required number of teachers. ‘Students and their guardians do not prefer the new universities as well as those in outlying districts as these institutions have failed to earn their confidence,’ Dhaka University professor emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury said. ‘Most of the new universities do not have adequate number of teachers, library, laboratories and dormitories,’ he said. Former UGC chairman AK Azad Chowdhury also cited inadequate teacher and infrastructure for these universities’ failure to attract students. Guardians do not feel confident about sending their children to the universities outside Dhaka and those which are comparatively new, says UGC chairman professor Abdul Mannan. The latest UGC annual report, placed at parliament in second week of February, shows that in 2016-17 session 4,098 out of 82,948 seats at honours and Master’s level were vacant. Of the vacant seats, around 79 per cent are from universities in outlying districts. Currently, there are 39 public universities functional and among them nine are in the capital. Farhana Rahman Kalabagan, Dhaka

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