Sufferings and costs of education shoot up significantly as over two-thirds of the students in the country’s public universities have no dormitories as they struggle to pursue higher education.
The public universities seriously lack residential facilities and as a result, majority of the students at these educational institutions are compelled to reside in rented shared rooms or in rented houses which meant costs of rents, food and helping hands for house-hold chores.The latest report of the University Grants Commission (UGC) published in 2018 shows that only 31 percent students on an average get residential facilities at the public universities.
According to the report, there is a total of 2,83,866 students at 34 public universities except National University, Open University and Islamic Arabic University, and only 89,292 of them are getting residential facilities which is only 31 percent. It shows 194,574 students remain outside the campuses for lack of seats at the public university dormitories across the country.
However, Dhaka University VC Prof M Akhtaruzzman said ‘We have taken initiatives to resolve the accommodation crisis by expanding the existing halls and constructing new halls.” “We took projects to resolve the problems permanently and there is some progress,” he said
This correspondent tried to contact Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni for comments but she was currently on a foreign visit.
The students, especially those from low-income families, are distracted from their studies to pay the additional cost of living outside the campuses, where it was very affordable. Students at different public universities told the daily sun that they find it difficult to continue their education as their expenses increase 2-3 times house rents.
Talking to daily sun, former Dhaka University VC Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique said students cannot give proper attention to their studies due to lack of dormitories.The educationist said “Every university should have a plan to admit student considering their accommodation capacity and ensure accommodation for minimum three-fourths students because only one-fourths students have ability to bear the costs of living in rented places.”
Pointing out that the women suffered more due to lack of accommodation at the universities, he said “Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed to construct more halls (dormitories) for both the male and female students equally.”
“Following her instruction, the construction of some halls are going on at several universities, but I think the authorities should ensure enough accommodation for the students constructing enough halls for the development of the higher education,” he added.
Meanwhile, a section of students of the premier Dhaka University on Tuesday staged sit-in in front of the university’s Vice-Chancellor’s (VC) residence, demanding an end to the accommodation crisis.
The protesters, led by Dhaka University Central Students’ Union (Ducsu) member Tanbir Hasan Shaikat and the protesters took position in front of the VC’s residence with placards.
Ducsu leader Tanbir Hasan said, “The university administration has totally failed to solve the accommodation crisis. Actually they don’t want to resolve the problem that's why they didn’t take any effective steps.” On October 1, the students gave a 15-day ultimatum to DU VC to resolve the accommodation crisis.
The number of students at Dhaka University is 33,360 and the university has a capacity to provide residential facilities for 13,969 students at 23 dormitories.
The number of students at Rajshahi University is 37,256. But only 8,586 students are enjoying residential facilities at this public institute established in 1953.
Only 12,849 students out of total 17,006 students of Jahangirnagar University are getting residential facilities in 16 halls. Out of total of 28,216 students of Chittagong University only 4,529 are getting the dormitory facilities at the university.
Islamic University has a total of 13,636 students. Of them, only 2,730 students are getting residential facilities at the university established in 1980.
The number of students of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) is 8,856 but only 3,156 students are enjoying residential facilities at the university established in 1962.
The number of students at Shahjalal Science and Technology University is 10,113 but only 2,214 students are getting the hall facilities at the university established in 1986.
The number of students at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University is 3,867. Of the total students, only 277 are getting residential facilities at the university.
There are a total of 6,436 students at Noakhali Science and Technology University. But, only 1,189 students are getting accommodation facilities at the institution.
Only 86 students out of 6,517 at Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University in Mymensingh are getting residential facility.
Only 1200 out of total 7,954 students are getting residential facility at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University in Gopalganj.
The number of students at Barisal University is 6,644 but only 1,225 students are getting the residential facilities.
Out of total 5,988 students of Comilla University, only 701 students are getting hall facilities at the public university. A total of 7,269 students are studying at the Khulna University but only 2,217 are enjoying the residential facilities.
There are 9,073 students at Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science & Technology University in Dinajpur but only 2,468 students are enjoying the hall facility. The number of students at Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University is 5,849 but only 1084 students are getting residential facility.
Only 1,039 students out of total 8178 students at Begum Rokeya University in Rangpur is getting the hall facility. The number of students at Bangladesh university of Professionals is 5254 but only 259 students are getting the accommodation facility.
There is no dormitory at few public universities. Jagannath University, which turned into a university in 2005, has a total of 17,414 students, but there is no hall of residence for the students at this institution.
The students, especially female ones from remote districts, who get admitted to this institution, face difficulty in carrying on studies for not getting residential facilities.
Prof Dr Mijanur Rahman, Vice-chancellor of Jagannath University, told the daily sun that a large number of students from low-income families, study at public universities.
“These students has huge financial burden if they fail to get seats at university dormitories,” he added. “All the universities, particularly those located in the capital, should ensure residential facilities for the sake of good academic atmosphere,” Prof Mijanur said.
Mentioning that there are acute crisis of transports and huge traffic jam, VC Prof Mizan said “The authorities should ensure accommodation for maximum students of each university to reach the higher education at the expected level”. Many first-year students are forced to join political meetings or processions without going to the class and they comply to get seats, he said adding that “if the authorities ensure enough accommodation for students, then many incidents like guest room culture, Gono room culture, and nasty student politics is stopped.”
The educationist also said “We hope that the government will take proper initiative to construct new halls for the students as per demands of the public universities to resolve the problem. But it will not resolve overnight.”
The scenario in other public universities are almost similar.