New univs on sponsors’ political link to hamper ednMushfique Wadud
Educationists said on Wednesday that giving permission to open new private universities due to political colours of the sponsors would hamper quality of higher education.
They said that decisions on such considerations were also bound to lead to a chaotic situation in the field of higher education making it difficult to ensure quality.
On Tuesday, the government gave permission, mostly to ruling party elements to open eight new private universities.
They also questioned the justification to allow the new universities when in 2009 there were no applicants for 13,152 seats of Bangladesh’s 54 existing private universities with 63,312 seats.
Educationists said that only on academic and not political considerations permission should be given to open new private universities.
When the government is unable to make many of the existing private universities follow the rules, the authorities need to be extra careful in allowing new universities, they told New Age when their reaction was sought about the education ministry giving permission to open eight new universities.
They in this regard said that there are allegations against many existing private universities that they were doing ‘business’ in the name of providing education and government was unable to make them follow the rules.
In this backdrop, they said, the authorities should have been extra careful in taking into consideration all the relevant aspects before allowing eight new private universities to come to the scene.
According to the education ministry officials, ruling Awami League leaders are linked, directly or indirectly, with the ownership of the eight universities, which got the fresh permission.
Only two new universities received the permission to open academic campuses in the capital city, education ministry officials said.
Awami League law maker Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir is the main initiator of European University, Bangladesh, which got the permission to run academic activities at Mirpur in the capital city, they said.
The second university which got the permission to open its campus in the capital city was BGMEA University of Fashion and Technology.
North East University, with an Awani League leader in Sylhet, as the founder, received the permission to open its campus in Sylhet.
Former Chattra League president Liakat Shikdar is associated with Barendra University which received the permission to open its campus in Rajshahi.
Awami League advisory council member and former National University vice chancellor Durga Das Bhattacharya is associated with newly permitted Esha Kha University which has been allowed to open its campus in Kishoreganj.
ZH Sikder University of Science and Technology received permission to open its campus at Shariatpur, also due to known political colours of the sponsors.
First Capital University received permission to open its campus at Chuadanga.
Hamdard University, which received permission to open its campus at Narayanganj, is possibly the lone new university without a ruling party sponsor.
Educationists said that giving permission to open eight new private universities becomes questionable at a time when a report of the University Grants Commission states that in 2009 there were no applications for admission to 13,151 seats, or one fourth of the seats of the existing private universities.
In 2009, the 54 existing private universities admitted 52,161 students, though they had 65,312 seats, said the latest UGC report.
Professor emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury said, ‘Universities should get permission purely on academic consideration and not on political considerations.’
Former Dhaka University vice chancellor Moniruzzaman Miah said that giving permission to open new universities to sponsors only because of their political colour was bound to create ‘a chaotic situation’ in the arena of higher education.
He said it would hamper the quality of higher education.
Former Jahangirnagar University vice chancellor Kazi Saleh Ahmed said that political identity should not be the qualification for getting the permission to open new private universities.
Former UGC chairman Nazrul Islam was of the view that political leaders could get the permission to open private universities, but the government and the UGC had to make sure that quality was not compromised while giving such permission.
The sponsors received the permission to open new private universities at a time when the government faces the allegations that it was failing to regulate the existing private universities.
Most private universities failed to move to their permanent campuses in 15 years or more.
According to the UGC, out of the 54 existing private universities only 11 set up their own campuses and landscape according to the required specifications.
The government should have considered all the relevant aspects before giving permission to the eight new private universities, Kazi Saleh said.
He said that the government should have been extra careful when it faces the allegation that it failed to regulate the existing private universities.
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