Part-timers dominate academic activities

Irregularities in Pvt Universities

Md Solamain Salman

10th June, 2019 10:11:33 printer

Most of the country’s private universities, including some renowned ones, are carrying out academic activities with part-time teachers, ignoring the needs for ensuring quality education and violating the rules.

As per section 35 (3) of Private University Act-2010, part-time teachers in the privately run institutions will not exceed one-third proportion of the full-timers in any department or programme.  

But the latest Annual Report of the University Grants Commission (UGC) released in 2018 shows that many private universities are not showing any respect to the law.

In 2017, the total number of full-time teachers was 10,917 against 5,087 part-timers at 89 private universities in the country, the UGC report said.

As per the law, the ratio of full-time and part-timer was not satisfactory in 2017, it said

Data show that the proportion of part-timers at many ‘so-called’ famous institutions was 40 to 60 per cent of the total number of teachers. Even many old private universities established 20-25 years ago do not have the sufficient number of full-time teachers.

There are allegations that the authorities of the private universities do not want to keep experienced teachers for their commercial mentality and running academic activities by part-time teachers. This means that they are doing business in the name of education.

The first private university in the country was established in 1992. Now, the number is 104 as various governments have allowed politicians, businessman and influential quarters to establish private universities.

Allegations are widespread that some of the privately run institutions are not ensuring proper educational environment and just selling certificates in the name of higher education.

Statistics of 89 universities were mentioned in the UGC annual report. Since inception, these universities were dependent on part-time teachers and they are yet to come out from this dependency even after 26 years into their journey.

Part-time teachers at North South University (NSU), considered as country’s top private institution for higher studies, outnumbers the full-timers. There is a total of 1,291 teachers at NSU in 2017, but 922 of them were serving there as part-timers which is over 71 per cent, according to the UGC report.

A total of 466 teachers are serving at the Independent University Bangladesh (IUB) where 274 are part-timers.

There were a total of 271 teachers at the Asian University of Bangladesh but 122 of them are serving as part-timers or in a contractual or ad-hoc basis.

A total of 483 teachers are serving at Southeast University where 264 teachers are part-timers. A total of 224 teachers are serving at State University of Bangladesh where 129 teachers are part-timers, or in a contractual or ad-hoc basis.

The report shows that there were also a good number of part-timers at the universities like East West University, United International University, BRAC University, IBAIS University and Premier University, Northern University Bangladesh, Dhaka International University.

Besides, the numbers of teachers are very insufficient at many universities, including Central Women’s University, The Millennium University, Bangladesh University of Business and Technology, Presidency University, Victoria University of Bangladesh, East Delta University, and Cox’s Bazar International University.

The statistics also revealed that the privately run institutions are not only dependent on part-timers but also dependent on junior teachers—lecturers and assistant professors.

In 2017, the number of full-time professors was 790 while the part-time professors were 1,606 at the 89 private universities.

The universities had 659 full-time associate professors and 758 part-timers; 2,559 full-time assistant professors and 919 equivalent part-timers. The number of full-time lecturers was 6,688 against 1,450 part-time lecturers. 

The astonishing matter is that there were only 790 full-time professors at 89 private universities where the number of professors is about 885 at Dhaka University alone.

Academics said the private universities are failing to maintain quality of education due to lack of senior teachers.

No university can deliver higher education in the absence of an adequate number of senior teachers, such as professors and associate professors, they said.

Regrettably, most of the private universities have been carrying out academic activities depending on junior teachers, they added.

Explaining the matter, World University of Bangladesh (WUB) Vice-chancellor Prof Dr Abdul Mannan Choudhury said “The allegation that sponsors of private universities are greedy and employ part-time teachers because employing part-timers are cheaper than employing full-timers. I feel that perhaps, this fact is acceptable.”

He said a part-time professor is normally paid Tk. 80,000 to 100,000 to teach a single subject in a trimester (4 months period). This means the gross earning of a part-time professor is Tk. 360,000 for 4 courses.

A full-time professor is paid about Tk 200,000-300,000 per month and supposed to teach 4 courses. This average cost per course is, therefore, Tk 250,000 by full-timers against only Tk 90,000 by part-timers, he explained. 

“We can calculate the payment per month for each Associate Professor, Assistant Professor and Lecturer separately for part-time and full-time teachers and come to the same conclusion that part-timers are less expensive,” he said. 

The educationist also explained that non-availability of full-time teachers and a high rate of turnover of full-timers discourage many private universities to go for such risky and uncertain steps. “The cost of employing full-timers is further inflated by the bonus, provident fund and or pension funds,” Abdul Mannan Choudhury said.

Teacher-student ratio not ideal at many varsities

Thirteen private universities in the country do not have the ideal ratio between teachers and students necessary for imparting quality education to the students.

Educationists said the perfect teacher-student ratio at a higher education institution should be 1:20. The UGC report reveals the ratio at over 1:30.

The 13 private universities, where the Teacher-Student Ratio (TSR) is over 1:30, are Dhaka International University (TSR 1:31), Bangladesh University (TSR 1:40), University of Information Technology and Sciences (TSR 1:86), Royal University of Dhaka (TSR 1:35), Atish Dipankar University of Science and Technology (TSR 1:36), Bangladesh Islami University (TSR 1:32), ASA University Bangladesh (TSR 1:133), European University of Bangladesh (TSR 1:36), BGMEA University of Fashion and Technology (TSR 1:35), First Capital University of Bangladesh  (TSR 1:35), Britannia University (TSR 1:36),  North Bengal International University (TSR 1:31), and Fareast International University (TSR 1:45).

“The teacher-student ratio was 1:133 at ASA University Bangladesh which is unacceptable,” UGC report noted. The number of teachers was 16,020 at 89 private universities against 354,333 students in 2017.

Prof Siddiqur Rahman, a former faculty at Dhaka University institute of education and research, said private universities were mushrooming in the country though there is no need of such a large number of universities in the country.

“The government should take measures to ensure quality higher education at the universities instead of increasing number of the institutions,” said the educationist.