Foreign students prefer private universities to public universities for pursuing higher studies in Bangladesh.
When the public universities, including Dhaka University, failed to attract foreign students, the number of overseas learners at private universities has shown an upward trend.
At present, 461 foreign students study at 22 public universities countrywide while the number of foreign students is 1,977 at 34 private universities across the country.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) in its annual report revealed that the number of foreign students in public universities increased steadily in five years. It rose to the peak of 593 in 2015. Although the number fell down to 355 in 2016, but it again rose to 461 in 2017.
In 2017, the number of foreign students rose to 1,977 at private universities. But, it was 1,927 in 2016.
According to experts, language-related problems, lengthy admission process, political instability and session jam are behind decrease in number of overseas students at public varsities.
They mentioned that the private university authorities launch campaigns abroad to attract foreign students, but the public university authorities do not bother to do so. At private universities, foreign students are provided with facilities like separate living arrangements which does not exist at public universities.
Prof Harun-Ur-Rashid Askari, the vice-chancellor of Islamic University in Kushtia, told the daily sun that enrolment of foreign students at a university is essential for establishing the institution to be the real centre of higher education.
Mentioning that 25 foreign students are now studying at his university, Prof Harun opined that public universities should ensure special accommodation for overseas students.
He further said that eligibility for admission at private universities is more flexible than at public universities. Moreover, foreign students want to get certificates easily. As to why, they choose private universities.
“There is no global exposure of our public universities due to lack of publicity,” he mentioned.
According to the UGC report, only 461 foreign students are now studying in the country’s 22 public universities while the number was 355 in 2016, 593 in 2015, 432 in 2014, 326 in 2013, 525 in 2012, 210 in 2011, 359 in 2010, and 390 in 2009.
The UGC report depicting overall scenario of the country’s higher educational institutions in 2016, was placed before the President, also the Chancellor of the universities, on October 18, this year.
The report said that foreign students are being encouraged to study in Bangladesh due to digitalization of higher education. Easily, they are able to know about higher educational courses, curriculum, and syllabus.
Statistics shows that the number of foreign students at private universities was 1977 in 2017 while it was 1,927 in 2016, 1,548 in 2015, 1,643 in 2014, 1,612 in 2013, 1,642 in 2012, 1,651 in 2011, 1,557 in 2010 and 1,199 in 2009.
Educationists have identified several reasons for choosing private universities by foreigners for pursuing higher studies.
They mentioned about weather and environment which is better in Bangladesh than that of African nations. The standard of education is also good in Bangladesh. The quality of higher education improved much due to increased use of IT.
The UGC report said that students from 35 countries are now studying at 32 private universities. The countries are the USA, Italy, England, Australia, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, China, Jordan, KSA, Yemen, Palestine, Cambodia, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Malaysia, Somalia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Afghanistan, South Korea, Bahrain, Ghana, Janbiya, Djibouti, Myanmar, the Philippians, UAE, and Iran.
The report noted that the students from developing countries are choosing Bangladesh for pursuing higher studies thereby enhancing the country’s image and increasing forex.
It suggested for upgrading the quality of education to international standard for ensuring continued development of tertiary education in Bangladesh.
UGC chairman Prof Abdul Mannan said: “Students from many countries are now coming to Bangladesh for higher study as they can easily know about relevant information of our universities.”
The UGC also signed memorandums of understanding (MoU) with a number of foreign universities. As a result, overseas students are increasingly getting attracted to study in Bangladesh.
He, however, attributed the poor number of foreign students at public universities to lack of campaigns.