Universities lack research culture

Md Solamain Salman

18 January, 2020 12:00 AM printer

No research at 15 pvt, 6 public varsities

A number of public and private universities in the country are running without focusing much on research, a key benchmark for measuring the standard of tertiary education.  

Some 15 private universities and six public universities did not spend a single penny on research in 2018 while some conduct name-only research with a meager funding.

As per the Private University Act-2010, the higher educational institutions are supposed to allocate a significant amount of their annual budget for carrying out research.

Educationists say there are three types of works—creation of knowledge, storage of knowledge, dissemination of knowledge—for every university and no tertiary education can be complete without research as creation of new knowledge requires fact-finding analysis.

Former University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman Prof Abdul Mannan said, “Conducting research for generating new knowledge is one of the key functions of a higher educational institution. But the research work being conducted by our universities is not enough.”

Prof Mannan said: “Some universities even did not allocate a single penny for research. One-third of private universities is not interested in such activities as they want to use those as business entities.”

The latest annual report of UGC published recently reveals that there are 105 private universities in the country. Of them, 15 private varsities, out of 92 operating, spent no money on research in 2018.

A maximum of Tk 0.5 million was spent on research by 24 private universities each, 11 universities spent Tk 0.5 to1 million, another 11 universities spent Tk 1-2 million. It shows that 61 out of the 92 private universities spent a maximum of only Tk 2 million for research.

But the academics said spending Tk2 million a year is not really a research. In fact, two-thirds of the private universities show the cost of research in name only.

The 15 universities that did not spend on research include—People’s University of Bangladesh, Pundra University of Science and Technology, University of South Asia, Ibais University, Royal University of Dhaka, First Capital University of Bangladesh, ZH Sikder University of Science & Technology, North Bengal International University, Fareast International University, Rajshahi Science and Technology University, Bangladesh Army International University of Science and Technology, The International University of Scholars, Rabindra Maitri University, Central University of Science and Technology and Anwar Khan Modern University.

A few of these institutions were established 20-25 years ago. Even some of the 15 universities are running without spending any money on research in the last 4-5 years.

The UGC report also revealed that many of the institutions that carried out research did not focus on any innovative approach and spent just Tk 0.1 to 0.5 million on research works.

The universities that spent a maximum of Tk1 million include Central Women’s University, Dhaka International University, Leading University, BGC Trust University, Prime University, Northern University of Bangladesh, Southern University Bangladesh, Eastern University, Presidency University, Atish Dipankar University of Science and Technology, Bangladesh Islami University, Varendra University, Hamdard University Bangladesh, North Western University, Times University, Canadian University of Bangladesh, Cox’s Bazar International University, NPI University and Northern University of Business and Technology.

The universities that spent up to maximum Tk2 million include Manarat International University, Asian University of Bangladesh, City University, University of Information Technology and sciences, Prime Asia University, BGMEA University of Faison and Technology, Global University of Bangladesh and University of Global Village.

Besides, analysing the report, it has also been noted that there is a huge gap in research spending among some well-reputed private universities.

The report reveals that the research expenditure was Tk387.64 million at BRAC University while it was Tk67.581 million at Daffodil International University, Tk55.6 million at North South University, Tk48.24 million at Sonargaon University, Tk43.38 million at American International University, Tk30.6 million at Independent University, Bangladesh, Tk81.88 million at Victoria University of Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, the UGC report reveals that six public universities, out of 37 operating, spent no money on research in 2018. The six are Rajshahi University, Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University, Bangladesh Textile University, Chattogram Medical University, Rajshahi Medical University and Rabindra University.

The maximum research expenditure was Tk48.68 million at Bangladesh Agriculture University while it was Tk 29.351 million at Chittagong University, and Tk20.7 million at Dhaka University.

Apart from this, the research expenditure was Tk14 million at Bangladesh Engineering University, Tk19.9 million at Jahangirnagar University, Tk19.4 million at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Tk18.6 million at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University, Tk 14.2 million at Jagannath University, and Tk10.6 million at Bangladesh University of Professionals.

Among the others public universities, four universities spent maximum Tk2 million for research while others conduct name-only research in which the spending is much less than required.

When asked, former Dhaka University Vice-chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique Said, “We are still lagging other countries when it comes to research.”

The academician said, “The Bangladeshi meritorious students are going abroad for higher study but they are not returning after completion of study. Steps have to be taken to keep the talented students by giving facilities in our country.” 

“Mentioning that the universities have to create junior and senior research fellow post, he said, adding that UGC should give allocation for research separately and it has to monitor that individually,” he added.