The government continues to allow new private universities while new applications are pouring in for establishing new ones.
The government on Tuesday approved two more private universities, taking the total number of private universities in the country to 100. The newly approved universities are Khulna Khan Bahadur Ahsanullah University in Khulna and Ahsania Mission Science and Technology University in Rajshahi.
A total of 45 out of the 100 private universities were approved in last nine years since 2009.
Though the quality of education at most of the private educational institutions is in question, new applications are pouring in for establishing private varsities.
Academics said many private universities are failing to provide quality education due to the lack of infrastructure and shortage of qualified teachers.
People close to ruling Awami League and its alliance partners, pro-government teachers’ leaders, business enterprises, individuals and NGOs have already placed proposals for more than a dozen of other private universities across the country.
The proposed universities include South Region University, Patuakhali; RTM Al Kabir Technical University, Sylhet Sadar; Tagore University of Creative Arts, Keraniganj; Kamal Uddin Ahmed University of Science and Technology, Gazipur; University of Atish Dipankar Bajragjani, Munshiganj; Singapore University of Bangladesh, Mirpur, Dhaka; North Bengal University, Rangpur; Raushan Ershad International University, Mymensingh; and International Standard University, Mahakhali Dhaka, Apollo University of Science and Technology, Chandpur; University of Brahmanbaria; Rangpur University; International Culture University; University of Management Science, Gazipur; University of Modern Technology, Banani, Dhaka.
The sponsors of these universities have submitted necessary documents and requested the University Grants Commission (UGC) to carry out field visits to these proposed universities to grant the requisite approval.
The UGC has already completed the field visits and sent reports to the ministry, recommending for approval to some of these private universities.
“Allowing new universities is not a problem. The problem is to ensure the quality of education,” said Mohiuddin Khan, additional secretary (development) of the education ministry.
"Many private universities are failing to maintain the standards of education. we are trying to address this issue," he added.
Nobody knows how many private universities should be enough for the country while the number of varsities is increasing without any attention to the efforts for maintaining the standard of the education system in the private sector, experts said.
Kazi Rafiqul Alam, president of Dhaka Ahsania Mission, is the founder of the two newly approved new universities. He also established Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology which is located in the capital.
There are already 55 private universities are in Dhaka. Though the government decided in principle not to allow more private universities in the capital, private varsities continue to pop up in the capital and its suburbs.
Academicians observed that the number of private universities is increasing rapidly as the public universities can’t accommodate the growing number of freshers. Most of the private universities are driven by commercial interest, they added.
Allegations of corruption and irregularities have been raised against many of these private universities, they said, adding that most of the private universities are failing to provide quality education.
They also alleged that the government allows new private universities under pressure from political leaders and businessmen.
Experts also say most of the private universities do not have their own permanent campuses, and classes are held in rented buildings in commercial or residential areas.
“Before allowing any new private university, the government should analyse whether this new university would be able to establish proper academic infrastructure,” Renowned academic Serajul Islam Choudhury said.
“The government should make sure that the private universities do not compromise on the standard of education. Otherwise, students will suffer and they will remain unemployed despite having degrees,” he added.