Over dozens of former and incumbent vice-chancellors of public universities are facing various types of corruption charges, posing a great concern for the higher education in the country.
The VCs have been accused of resorting to graft and illegal activities during recruitments of staff, embezzling funds, nepotism and sexual harassment in the highest seats of learning.Educationist Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique told the Daily Sun that it is very shameful for the society as well as the nation when the teachers are involved in corruption like the people of other professions.
“It is the responsibilities of the educational institutions to make good and honest citizens for the country. The image of the university or other institutions will be tarnished if the head of the educational institutions like VC is involved in corruption,” he said.
He also said, “When such allegations are levelled against the plenipotentiaries, it naturally hampers academic and administrative activities, and ultimately tarnishes the image of the universities.”
Prof Siddique, also a former VC of Dhaka University, said, “I hope that the education ministry will ensure exemplary punishment quickly for the VCs involved in corruption after proper investigation.”
“There are many honest and capable teachers at our universities. So, I urge the education ministry to appoint them in administration,” he said.
According to the sources of the University Grants Commission (UGC), the university regulatory body is conducting 15 investigations against 12 incumbent and former vice-chancellors of public universities on charges of various irregularities and corruption.The 12 VCs are Begum Rokeya University, Rangpur (BRUR) VC Prof Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah, Khulna Agricultural University VC Prof Md. Shahidur Rahman Khan, Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University (MBSTU) VC Prof Md Alauddin, immediate past VC of National University Prof Harun-or-Rashid, former VC of Share-e-Bangla Agricultural University Prof Kamal Uddin Ahmed, Noakhali University of Science and Technology (NUST) former VC Prof Dr M Wahiduzzaman, Chittagong University former VC Prof Iftekhar Uddin Chowdhury, former VC of Pabna Science and Technology University, former VC of Comilla University, former VC of Barishal University, Rajshahi University immediate past VC Prof M Abdus Sobhan and Islamic Arabic University (IAU) VC Prof Muhammad Ahsan Ullah.
Of them, the VCs of RU, BRUR and IAU are facing double investigations.
The UGC has already submitted probe reports to the Education Ministry against RU VC Prof Sobhan, IAU VC Prof Muhammad Ahsan Ullah and BRUR VC Prof Kalimullah over allegations against them.
According to the sources, the allegations of corruption are increasing day by day as the VCs of the public universities are getting involved in controversial activities one after another.
Dozens of vice-chancellors of public universities have been accused of irregularities, corruption or misconduct after the BNP-led alliance government came to power in 2001.
At that time, after probe, the UGC had submitted investigation reports to the Education Ministry but the ministry did not take action against them.
Later, based on the UGC’s report, eight VCs were removed from their posts after the caretaker government came to power in 2007. But none of them have a record of facing criminal case or exemplary punishment.
Over dozens of allegations of corruption against VCs were investigated by the UGC since 2009 to till the date. Of them, Begum Rokeya University’s VC Prof Abdul Jalil Mandal and Islamic university’s VC Prof Abdul Hakim were removed from their posts.
Amid student protest, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University VC Prof Dr Khondoker Md Nasiruddin resigned on September 30, 2019 after a five-member UGC probe committee found evidence of irregularities and corruption against him.
Only BRUR VC Prof Abdul Jalil Mandal faced corruption case but none of other VCs faced any such legal measure for their corruption.
Many experts think that the involvement of VCs in corruption at the universities is increasing day by day due to lack of exemplary punishment.
The UGC recently found evidence of irregularities in its investigation into the allegation against Rajshahi University (RU) Vice-chancellor Professor M Abdus Sobhan and the Commission also submitted probe report to the Education Ministry recommending action against him.
But the ministry did not take action against the VC. However, the ministry ordered a halt to all recruitments in the university on December 10 last year.
Finally, just before leaving office, RU VC Prof Sobhan recruited 140 people on his last working day defying the education ministry’s ban.
Terming the RU VC’s last day’s appointment ‘illegal’, the Education Ministry on Thursday formed a four-member strong committee led by UGC member Prof Muhammad Alamgir to probe into the incident.
Experts also said most probably the authority has given priorities to political identity rather than academic and other records when a VC is appointed. Due to political appointment, a VC in a public university gets involved in corruptions or other irregularities.
The UGC recently sent a letter to the education ministry, saying that ten types of irregularities are taking place at the universities.
The types of corruption include opening of new department without prior permission, recruitment of additional manpower without advertisement, spending of money from one sector to another and purchase without tender.
UGC Chairman Prof Dr Kazi Shahidullah said that the investigations are going on against VCs of several public universities while the commission has already submitted investigation reports to the Education Ministry regarding several other universities.
Among the allegations, the complaints related to recruitment and financial activities are more, said Prof Shahidullah, adding, “We just can conduct probe and submit report to the ministry, which can take action.”
Currently, there are 49 public universities in the country.