7 new private univs soonMohiuddin Alamgir
The government is set to approve seven new private universities on ‘political consideration’ at the fag end of its tenure raising the number of newly approved private universities to 25 in last two years.
With the latest approvals, the number of the private universities in the country will be 78.
According to officials of the education ministry, ruling Awami League leaders are linked, overtly or covertly, to the ownership of the newly approved seven universities.
Education ministry officials said the seven universities waiting for approval were Far East International University in Dhaka. Sheikh Kabir Hossain, a relative of the prime minister, is learnt to be the initiator of the university.
Former Rajshahi University vice-chancellor Abdul Khaleqe lobbied for approval of North Bengal International University in Rajshahi while LGRD and cooperatives state minister Jahangir Kabir Nanak’s wife proposed for Global University in Jhalakati, whip Mirza Azam made the proposal for Sheikh Fajilatunnessa University in Jamalpur.
An Awami League leader proposed for Cox’s Bazar International University in the resort town while a relative of an adviser to the prime minister made proposal for Rajshahi Science and Technology University in Natore.
The Kumudini Trust sought approval of the Ranada Prasad Saha University in Tangail.
Education minister Nurul Islam Nahid told New Age that some universities would get approval very soon.
The government is planning to give the approval of the new universities at a time when none of the private universities, set up since 1992, have received permanent certification, or permission, as they have not fully complied with the Private University Act in 21 years, said the University Grants Commission.
Most of these universities continue flouting the law. They have yet to move to their own campuses, which they were supposed to do in seven years after their establishment. These universities are still running illegal outer campuses, which is prohibited by the law.
Some of them are engaged in ownership conflicts, which unless resolved, could lead to the presidential intervention. Only a handful of the universities are doing research, which is mandatory for the universities.
The education ministry officials said that there were widespread allegations of corruption against the universities. Many of them are running illegal outer campuses and are engaged in ‘selling graduation and post-graduation certificates.’
Private universities are also increasing fees every year causing sufferings to students.
The officials said that the ministry had sent the proposals for the seven new private universities to prime minister Sheikh Hasina for approval. The ministry received over 100 applications.
After the passage of the Private University Act in parliament in July 2010, some political leaders, businessmen and former bureaucrats submitted applications to the education ministry and lobbied hard high-ups in the Prime Minister’s Office, ministry officials said.
Nahid denied the allegation that the universities had been approved on political consideration saying that giving approval to new universities was more or less a regular process.
He said permission was given to private universities as part of the government’s plan to establish a university in each district.
Ministry officials said that 53 universities were set up as non-profit institutions between 1992 and 2006. There are now 71 private universities in the country and 18 of them received approval only in 2012 and this year.
In March 2012, home minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir’s European University, Gapalganj Awami League leader Iqbal Ahmed Khan’s North East University in Sylhet, Barendra University in Rajshahi linked to former Chhatra League president Liakat Sikdar, and Isa Khan University in Kishoreganj linked to Awami League advisory council member and former National University vice-chancellor Durga Das Bhattacharya, received permission to open campuses. Besides, ZH Sikder University of Science and Technology received permission to open its campus in Shariatpur, also due to political connections of the sponsors. Awami League lawmaker Solaiman Haque Joarder’s 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 having a ruling party sponsor. BGMEA University of Fashions and Technology got approval during the period.
A minister lobbied for Khwaza Yunus Ali University in Sirajganj, Sonargaon University linked to Rashed Khan Menon, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on education ministry, North Western University in Khulna linked to Awami League leader Talukder Abdul Khaleque, and Port City International University in Chittagong for which former Chhatra League leaders, including Enamul Haque Shamim, acted as the pressure group, got approval in November 2012.
Beside Britania University in Comilla, Feni University in Feni, Bangladesh University of Health Science in Dhaka also got approval at that time.
In October 2012 Exim Bank Agricultural University was approved by the government breaking rules of approval. The university will be situated at Chapainawabganj. Chiarman of Exim Bank is one of the owners of the university, said UGC sources.
This year Notre Dame University and Times University in Faridpur got approval.
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