Irregularities galore at private varsities

President’s 16-point guideline falls on deaf ears

Md Solamain Salman

27th September, 2020 10:59:50 printer

Irregularities galore at private varsities

Many private universities are still involved in irregularities and corruption, paying no heed to the directives of the President for maintaining a proper atmosphere in the private educational institutions.

President Abdul Hamid, also the chancellor of all universities in the country, had issued a 16-point guideline at a meeting with the vice-chancellors of the private universities on 6 February 2018 to check irregularities and help operate the universities smoothly.

But the universities have hardly taken any measures to sort out their irregularities as per the guidelines. They rather continue to operate at their own will. 

The universities are violating the rules of the Private University Act-2019 taking the advantage of lax monitoring by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Education Ministry.

There are also allegations that the ministry and UGC cannot take action against the irregularities as the owners of the private universities are influential persons. 

When asked, UGC Chairman Prof Kazi Shahidullah told the Daily Sun “We are pressurising the private universities continuously to run their activities as per the rules.”

“But now we are showing a bit relaxation due to COVID-19 pandemic. But once the situation improves, we will take a hard line against irregularities and corruption in private universities,” he said. 

Mentioning that the universities should follow the private university act spontaneously, the UGC chief said, “We are trying our best to ensure quality education at the private universities as per the guidelines.”

Noted educationalist and former Dhaka University vice-chancellor Prof Dr AAMS Arefin Siddique told the Daily Sun, “Many of our private universities are in name only and they are running the universities as business entities.”

Prof Arefin Siddique also urged the education ministry, accreditation council and UGC to keep a close eye on the private universities to ensure that these institutions do not serve their commercial purpose only. 

“The government is giving approval to private universities one after another but the authorities have to ensure the quality of education in those institutions,” he added. 

In the guidelines, the chancellor had asked the private universities to implement the ‘Private University Act-2010’ properly to ensure quality education while the education ministry and UGC have been asked to oversee the implementation of the guidelines strictly.

However, the universities are still violating rules and the ministry and UGC are allegedly not taking any visible steps to check the irregularities. 

Directives were given to the universities to form monitoring committees to look into whether the students are getting involved in extremism and terrorist activities. 

The private universities were also asked to inform the government about the activities of these monitoring committees regularly.

But it was learnt that such committees don’t exist in many universities while the other universities are not sending any reports about the activities of their monitoring committees.

The authorities of the universities have been instructed to conduct regular audits to ensure financial transparency and submit the reports to the authorities. But many universities do not adhere to this rule. 

There is also an instruction to transfer the academic and administrative activities to permanent campuses and the ministry and UGC are supposed to ensure this. 

But of the total 107 private universities, only 30 private universities so far shifted to permanent campuses, the deadlines for 61 universities expired but they are yet to move to own campus while the tenure of temporary certificates of 16 other universities is not over yet. 

The guideline also said apart from educational activities, sports and cultural activities must be prioritised at the private universities. But the scope of the extra curriculum activities is rare at the institutions. 

To ensure transparency in teacher recruitment, the chancellor instructed to formulate a policy to appoint qualified teachers. But the policy did not see the light of the day yet.

The education ministry and UGC have been asked to take necessary steps to prevent certificate trade and check additional admission and tuition fees.  

But there is still allegation of certificate trade against some universities while many universities including the renowned ones are charging additional fees in different ways.

The Chancellor had stressed to appoint vice-chancellor, pro-VC and treasures against the vacant posts for a smooth running of the private varsities. But the posts of VC are lying vacant at 27 out of 107 approved private universities; there are still no Pro-VCs at 84 universities and the post of treasures is vacant at 52 private varsities.

UGC data also shows that all three vital posts—VC, Pro-VC and Treasurer—are lying vacant at 16 private universities.

Stressing on the need for technical education, the President had also directed the education ministry and UGC to take steps to open new departments at the universities considering the need of the time.

But the universities are not showing interest in this matter rather they are interested in opening departments where they will get more students and more income. 

The president had advised the education ministry to take necessary steps to meet the long-term demand of the private university owners for bank loans by mortgaging land of the permanent campuses.

It is also stated in the President’s directives that the students’ admission into the private universities through entry tests can be actively considered. He also stressed for a time-befitting curriculum to ensure the quality of education. But there is no progress till now.

Universities have to take necessary steps to make students better citizens as well as to develop their ethical character. There must be initiatives to create a friendly relationship between teacher and students. But such initiatives are still absent in many cases.

There are also many allegations against the universities including that according to law, the number of part-time teachers at every department or programme will not be over one-third of the fulltime teachers. Private universities are bound to provide three per cent full-free studentship to the children of freedom fighters. But most of the universities are not following these rules.