Private universities limp on

Mustak Ahmed | Update:

Priv UnivAs many as 43 private universities of the country are running with no vice chancellors, reveal latest University Grants Commission (UGC) data.

There are no treasurers in 53 private universities while 75 have to make do with no pro-vice chancellors.

The UGC finidings say 89 among 95 private universities are functioning, while only 10-12 universities are adhering to the UGC rules.

There are a number of allegations of irregularities against these universities, including selling certificates in exchange for money.

However, the number of students in the private universities is increasing, despite lack of quality of education.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Professor Syed Manzoorul Islam said 10 to 12 universities are in Grade 1. Some 20 to 25 universities are trying to do better. The rest fail to achieve the quality required for the universities.

The quality of private universities was also questioned in the annual report of the UGC.

On 20 June, the UGC issued a circular describing the condition of 16 universities to alert the admission seekers.

An official of UGC said the circular was issued to alert admission seekers ahead of the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) results, to be published on 23 July.

Around 400,000 students are studying in the private universities.

The government, however, is approving new universities despite the lack of quality education. In two terms of the present Awami League-led government, 41 universities were approved in the space of nine years. On political consideration, more private universities are set to be approved. The government plans to establish at least one public university and one private university in each of the 64 districts.

Politicians and businessmen close to the government are trying to take this opportunity by getting approval for new universities, although there are not enough qualified teachers to be appointment as VCs, pro-VCs and treasurers.

UGC chairman Abdul Mannan told Prothom Alo that universities can't run leaving these vital posts vacant. 

All the activities of the universities are being severely hampered, he lamented.

Visiting a number of universities, it was found that the authorities have tasked their chosen people to carry on as acting VCs, while some have sent proposals for appointments.

The UGC chairman said that being the chancellor of the universities, the president appoints VCs, pro-VCs and treasurers. However, some universities are giving people the charges of VCs flouting the law.

UGC officials said the government is facing difficulty in appointing VCs in some public universities as well. Four among the 39 public universities reappointed their respective VCs.

It is found that the owners of the private universities want to appoint VCs of their choice. They send proposals with flaws, so getting an approval becomes difficult.

It is also alleged that some authorities deliberately delay appointment to save money. The government also ignores appointment on political consideration.

While visiting the Peoples University situated in the city's Asad Gate area, it was found that Arzu Miah, a professor of Chemistry at Jahangirnagar University, is discharging duties as the VC although the president has not appointed him.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, he said he has been discharging duties since 16 May.

President of Association of Private Universities of Bangladesh (APUB) Sheikh Kabir Hossain said the universities can't appoint teachers to vital posts due to crisis of qualified professors.    

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Kabir said, "We have to propose three names against one post. Are there enough qualified professors for 95 universities?"

He demands an amendment to the law so that the university could propose one name against one vacant post.

According to UGC, as of 15 June, the following universities have no VCs, pro-VCs or treasurers -- International University of Business Agriculture and Technology, International Islamic University, Gono Bishwabidyalay, The Peoples University of Bangladesh, Asian University of Bangladesh, Manarat International University, Sylhet International University, Green University, Pundro University of Science and Technology, Hamdard University Bangladesh, ZH Sikdar University of Science & Technology, Ranada Prashad Shaha University, CCN Science and Technology University, Canadian University of Bangladesh, NPI University of Bangladesh, University of Creative Technology Chittagong, University of Global Village and German University Bangladesh.

When contacted, the authorities of German University Bangladesh, Hamdard University Bangladesh and Ranada Prashad Shaha University said proposals had been sent to the government for appointment to the posts.  

The post of the VC is vacant in the following universities -- Atish Dipankar University of Science & Technology, University of Development Alternative, State University Of Bangladesh, Victoria University of Bangladesh, ASA University Bangladesh, First Capital University of Bangladesh, Exim Bank Agricultural University, Bangladesh, Feni University, Notre Dame University Bangladesh, Coxs Bazar International University and Atish Dipankar University of Science & Technology, University of Development Alternative, State University Of Bangladesh, Victoria University of Bangladesh, ASA University Bangladesh, First Capital University of Bangladesh, Exim Bank Agricultural University, Bangladesh, Feni University, Notre Dame University Bangladesh and Cox's Bazar International University.

Notre Dame University and State University say appointments to their respective VCs are under process. 

Former chairman of UGC Professor Nazrul Islam said it was not right to approve so many private universities.

Indiscipline grasped the universities as they were approved on fragile structure, he observed.


*The article originally published in Prothom Alo print edition has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam    

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