The government's rigid stance not to withdraw Value Added Tax (VAT) on the private university tuition fees has caused concern among private university students and their guardians as they will have to bear the burden of the extra VAT, not the university authorities, UNB reports.
Talking to UNB, a number of students and guardians said the decision will hamper the private's sector role in promoting higher education in the country.
They said the government should encourage the growth of private universities across the country since the existing public universities cannot accommodate the rising number of students seeking higher education.
The government imposed a 7.5 percent VAT on the tuition fees of private university students from the fiscal year 2015-16. Soon after the announcement, the students started movement demanding the withdrawal of the VAT.
But on August 14, at a programme in Sylhet, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said, "It cannot be accepted that they (Private universities students) cannot give 7.5 percent VAT while they pay Tk 30,000-Tk 50,000 as tuition fees," he said.
There are currently 84 universities in the country where 328,736 students are studying there.
They said if the government sticks to its decision, students from lower middle-class and middle-class will be deprived of pursuing higher education due to expensive education in public universities.
However, an education expert supports the government step to impose VAT on private university tuition fees but suggested realising the amount from the profit of the university authorities, not from the tuition fees of the students.
Siddikur Rahman, a professor of Institute of Education and Research at Dhaka University, said it is a good decision to impose VAT on private universities as they are running business in the name of higher education.
"But in this case, the government should impose VAT on the profit of the private universities not on the tuition fees of the students," he added.
Fazle Rabby Khan, coordinator of 'No Vat On Education', a platform which has been demanding withdrawal of VAT on tuition fees of private universities, told UNB education is people's basic rights education, not a commodity for which the government can impose VAT.
"The decision will surely create a pressure on the middle-class students to continue their university education. Hope, the government will withdraw the decision for the sake of promoting higher education," he added.
Smrity Sultana, a third-year BBA student of a private university said, "The government shouldn't impose VAT on education. We’ll surely fall in financial trouble for the government sticks to its decision."