Most of the students at public universities who are compelled to reside in messes or rented rooms due to lack of residential facilities are struggling to afford living costs amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sources said around 69 percent of the students at public universities have no dorm facility.The students living in rented houses or messes are facing serious problems to pay rents as they have already lost their part time jobs and private supplementary tutoring – the key source of earning -- due to the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the latest University Grants Commission (UGC) report, there is a total of 2,83,866 students at 34 public universities except National University, Open University and Islamic Arabic University.
Of the students, only 89,292 are getting residential facilities which are only 31 percent while 194,574 students (69%) are living at messes or rented houses outside the campuses for lack of seats at the dormitories.
Dhaka University student Aminul Islam, who used to live in a mess at Chankarpul in the capital, said: “I used to earn Tk10,000 per month from giving tuition and a part time job. I used to support my families from my income as my father died long ago. But since the beginning Covid-19 in March, I lost my job and I left the city.”
He said: “Now, the house owner is pressing for the payment of dues immediately, or else he would ask me to leave the house.”
Saddam Hossain, a student of Jagannath University (JnU), said he also faced the similar problem.“It is uncertain when I will return to Dhaka. I am worried about my necessary documents and essential things at the mess where I lived. I left Dhaka failing to pay the rent due to loss of my earning.”
Students of private universities and colleges are also facing the similar ordeal.
Solaiman Hossain, a third year student of Govt. Shahid Suhrawardy College, said: “I along with five other students used to live in a mess at Jurain in Dhaka. We left Dhaka at the beginning of Covid-19 pandemic losing job of house tutorship which was the key source of income to bear our living costs.”
“We could not pay our house rent due to financial crisis. A few days ago, we returned to the mess and saw that our valuables were taken away by the caretaker of the house,” he alleged.
On July 2, an owner of a students’ mess at Dhanmondi in Dhaka threw out the belongings of a few students as they failed to pay rents for the last three months.
Talking to daily sun, JnU Vice-chancellor (VC) Prof Mijanur Rahman, said: “At least 2.5 million students live in messes across the country and half a million in Dhaka only. So it is tough to solve the problems.”
He said the government has to give a special announcement so that house owners don’t misbehave with the students for rent amid the pandemic. It has to allocate incentives for the poor students.
UGC data shows that only 13,969 students out of 33,360 at Dhaka University are getting dorm facilities while the rest are living outside the campus due to lack of enough seats.
Only 8,586 students out of 37,256 at Rajshahi University, 12,849 out of 17,006 students at Jahangirnagar University, 4,529 out of 28,216 students at Chittagong University, 2,730 out of 13,636 students at Islamic University, 3,156 students out of 8,856 at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), 2,214 out of 10,113 students at Shahjalal Science and Technology University are enjoying the hall facilities.
Among others, 277 out of 3,867 students at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, 1,189 students out of 6,436 at Noakhali Science and Technology University, only 86 students out of 6,517 at Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University, 1200 out of 7,954 students at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University, 1,225 out of 6,644 students at Barisal University, 701 out of 5,988 students at Comilla University, 2,217 out of 7,269 students at Khulna University, 2,468 out of 9,073 students at Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science & Technology University, 1084 students out of 5,849 at Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University, only 1,039 students out of 8,178 at Begum Rokeya University are enjoying the dorm facility.
All the 17,414 students of JnU are living either at messes or rented houses in Dhaka as there is no dormitory facility for their students till now.
UGC member Prof Dr Muhammed Alamgir said the universities can identify the students who are facing problems and help them from their welfare fund amid the pandemic situation.