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Private Universities in Bangladesh: Tutoring machine or money making machine?
BdChronicle Special feature:
It’s been a long mantra that education here in Bangladesh has been a new venture to invest. The tutoring places have been turning money making machines. The pathetic ton is that business gets the upper hand over education. Money surpasses knowledge. The research and the making new knowledge are overshadowed by the side of business venture of education.
Though there is no alternative to modernising libraries and laboratories for ensuring quality of higher education, the country’s private universities have cut their spending on the section in 2013.
According to recently published University Grants Commission’s (UGC) Annual Report 2013, the country’s 68 private universities spent TK 60.71 crore on library-laboratory part in 2013 while the expenses of 60 private universities in 2012 was Tk 80.72 crore.
On its library part, East Delta University spent the highest amount of Tk 7.56 crore, while Brac University 2.11 crore and Independent University, Bangladesh Tk 15.1 crore respectively.
For Laboratory part, North South University spent the highest amount of Tk 10.80 crore while International University of Business Agriculture and Technology, and Daffodil International University cost Tk 3.85 crore and Tk 2.29 crore respectively, according to the report.
But, 19 of the private universities did not spend even a single penny on research activities in 2013, the report says.
There is no alternative to the research in the development of quality in higher education. Despite that, 19 out of 68 private universities in Bangladesh spent nothing in the research. This negative trend is really a bar towards achieving the quality higher education. According to the private University Act 2010, a portion of the annual budget of a particular university has to be spent for the purpose of research for the betterment of the country. Avoiding this act the following 19 private universities spent nothing to this end.
The remaining 49 private universities spent Tk 58.31 crore on research works and the expenses of every university for brainstorming work is Tk 1.19 crore on average.
Brac University spent the highest amount of Tk 40.65 crore for research work, while American International University Bangladesh and University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh occupied the second and third positions spending Tk 4 crore and Tk 2.25 crore respectively.
“There’s no alternative to research for improving the standard of higher education. Nineteen universities, out of 68, did not spend any money on the research works in 2013, which the commission (UGC) thinks an obstacle to ensure quality higher education,” the UGC report mentions.
As per the Private University Act 2010, every private university is bound to spend a substantial amount of its annual budget on research work, the report says, adding that the commission hopes that the private universities will allocate and spend money on research works regularly considering the improvement of quality higher education and national development.
UGC chairman Prof AK Azad Chowdhury said as the Commission has no legal authority over financial management of the private universities and it cannot compel the universities to spend or increase funds for research, laboratory and library sections.
Voicing frustration, Prof Chowdhury said, “The UGC is merely an advisory body, not the executive one. Without having any legal authority, we can’t compel the private universities to comply with the rules prescribed under the Private University Act.”
Contacted, Vice Chancellor of Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology Prof AMM Safiullah said there is a misinterpretation as his university spent enough on research works, but the expenses were not registered under research fund.
“We’ve our regular publications and we also spent money on undergraduate students to conduct researches. But the operating cost was not showed as the research expenses,” he told this reporter.
As the number of students are increasing over time, the campus facilities, library facilities, laboratory facilities and research oppotunities are not increasing accordingly in the private universities in Bangladesh.
Prof Safiullah also said now they are registering the expenditures against publications and researches as the research expenses.
Asked about the genuineness of the list of the 19 private universities mentioned in the UGC report, the UGC chairman said had the university spent a substantial amount on research works, the name was not referred to the list.
Meanwhile, the Commission issued notice to the 19 universities seeking explanations about the research expenses, he added.