Most of the country’s universities are running without focusing on research, a key benchmark for measuring the standard of tertiary education.
The majority of private universities are conducting research in name only while public universities also fail to reach the desired level of research, creating barriers for higher education to reach the expected level.Such a scenario of research at the public and private universities came up at the latest annual report of the University Grants Commission (UGC). The 46th Annual Report of the UGC was submitted to President Abdul Hamid, also the chancellor of all public and private universities, on Sunday.
“Conducting research for generating new knowledge is one of the key functions of a university. But the research work being conducted by our universities is not enough,” former Dhaka University Vice-chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique told the Daily Sun.
“The authorities concerned should take measures for joint research between the Bangladeshi and renowned international universities. The foreign and education ministries can play a good role led by the UGC to this end,” he said.
Mentioning that the universities should create junior and senior research fellow posts, the educationist also said the UGC should give allocation for research separately and it has to monitor the matter properly.
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 work -- creation of knowledge, storage of knowledge and dissemination ofknowledge -- for every university and no tertiary education can be complete without research as the creation of new knowledge requires fact-finding analysis.
According to the UGC annual report, a total of 95 out of 105 private universities conducted academic activities in 2019. Of these, 11 private universities did not spend a single penny on research.
A maximum of Tk 0.5 million was spent on research by 25 private universities each while 13 universities spent Tk 0.5 to 1 million, another 15 universities spent Tk 1-2 million. It shows that 50 private universities spent a maximum of only Tk 2 million for research.
However, some private universities spent abnormal amounts of money on research, according to the report.
But the academics said spending Tk 2 million a year is not really a research. In fact, around two-thirds of the private universities show the cost of research in name only.
The 11 universities that did not spend on research are People’s University of Bangladesh, Ibais University, First Capital University of Bangladesh, ZH Sikder University of Science & Technology, North Bengal International University, Rabindra Maitri University, Central University of Science and Technology, Anwar Khan Modern University, Bandarban University, Rabindra Maitree University and International Standard University.
A few of these institutions were established 20-25 years ago. Even some of the 11 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 work.
The International University of Scholars spent only Tk 800 on research while it was only Tk 44,000 at Army University of Engineering and Technology, Tk 11,000 at Ranada Prasad Shaha University, Tk 71,000 at Britania University, Tk 54,000 at Feni University, Tk 1.53 lakh at Atish Dipankar University of Science and Technology, Tk 47,000 at University of South Asia, Tk 1.57 lakh at Purndo University of Science and Technology and only Tk 1 lakh at Central Women’s University.
Besides, analysing the annual report, it has also been noted that there is a huge gap in research spending among some well-reputed private universities.
The report revealed that the research expenditure was Tk 37 crore at BRAC University while it was Tk 7.53 crore at Daffodil International University, Tk 6.53 crore at North South University, Tk 2.70 crore at Sonargaon University, Tk 8.98 crore at American International University, Tk 4.39 crore at Independent University, Bangladesh and Tk 12.48 crore at University of Liberal Arts.
Meanwhile, the research is also neglected at the public universities as seven out of 43 universities did not spend a single penny on research.
The UGC report shows that seven universities, including Rabindra University, Sheikh Hasina University, Khulna Agricultural University, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Aviation and Aerospace University did not show any research expenditure.
Among the public universities, Bangladesh Agricultural University spent maximum Tk 7.01 crore while it was Tk 5.20 crore at Dhaka University, Tk 4.40 crore at Rajshahi University, Tk 2.26 crore at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Tk 2.26 crore at Jahangirnagar University, Tk 2.90 crore at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology and Tk 1.48 crore at Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University.
However, most of other public universities conduct the name-only research in which the spending is much less than required for carrying out a quality research.
In the report, the UGC recommended increasing the budgetary allocation to attract the university students, teachers and researchers to the research.
Special incentive can be given to the researchers when the outcome of their research published at good journal or get patent, it said.