UGC seeks action against AUB for irregularities

Md Solamain Salman

25 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

The University Grants Commission (UGC) recommended taking action against Asian University of Bangladesh (AUB) on charges of different kinds of irregularities at the private university.

The university regulatory body on April 9 sent a letter signed by its private university division's director Md Omar Faruque to the secretary of secondary and higher education division of the education ministry seeking the action against the university under section 35 (7) of Private University Act-2010.

Earlier, the UGC conducted a probe over the allegations of certificate business, patronising militancy, irregularities in financial, academic and administrative activities of the private university and it found evidence of the allegations.

The UGC in the letter sent to the education ministry said Asian University of Bangladesh (AUB) is an old private university which was established in 1996 but the university is carrying out its activities through irregularities and violating the private university act.

The UGC is repeatedly getting allegations against the private university. The commission has also given directives to the university on the basis of investigative report of the commission but the university is defying the UGC's directives.

It said there is no vice-chancellor (VC) appointed by the Chancellor at the university since 2012 while no pro-VC and treasurer was appointed at the university since its establishment in 1996. All the three top posts are lying vacant at the university since 2012.

The university's former VC Dr Abul Hasan M Sadeq is working as acting VC of the university since 2012 and he is also signing the main certificates of the students while different official and academic documents are also being signed by the VC though he is not appointed legally.

As per the law, the VC is chief of academic and administrative activities while he is also the president of different committees, including syndicate, academic council and teacher appointment committee, but a stalemate has been created due to absence of legally appointed VC, Pro-VC and treasurer at the university for a long time.

On March 10, the education ministry's secondary and higher education division asked the UGC to keep the Asian University under close watch and increase its monitoring as many allegations, including certificate forgery, were found against the university.

The UGC also said AUB's board of trustees chairman was asked to take legal action against the university's registrar Faruk Ahmed                

as the allegation of his involvement with the certificate forgery was primarily found as true.

It also said the main certificate was jointly signed by university VC and examination controller while the provisional certificate was signed by only examination controller as per the rules, so only registrar Faruk Ahmed alone cannot do the certificate forgery without help of the top officials of the university. So, the commission thinks that the university's top officials are also involved with certificate forgery.

The UGC observed that a stalemate was created at the university due to termination of its teachers and employees without any valid reason, admission of students at spring semester violating UGC's ban, certificate forgery, patronising militancy and financial, academic and administrative irregularities.

The UGC urged the education ministry to take action against the university for the sake of usual educational activities of the university.

Earlier, the UGC conducted an investigation into various irregularities at AUB. A five-member UGC inspection team also visited the university on November 1 last year. The inspection team submitted a report to UGC after conducting on-the-spot investigation and analysing the relevant data. The report has revealed various financial, administrative and academic irregularities of the university.

According to the report, the number of students enrolled in the university's 23 undergraduate and postgraduate programmes is estimated around 6,000. Most of these programmes do not have the minimum qualified and experienced teachers. About 100 students are studying in BEd and MEd programmes. There is only one teacher for teaching these students.

Although there are more than five hundred students in each of the Bengali and English departments at the university, there is only one teacher at each department while there is also only one teacher in the Department of Information Science and Library Management.  But as per the UGC rules, each programme must have at least four permanent teachers and at least one of them should have the rank of associate professor.

Regarding administrative irregularities, the UGC probe body said the university now does not have a vice-chancellor, pro-VC and treasurer appointed by the Chancellor. The Chairman of Board Of Trustees is simultaneously acting as the Dean of the Faculty, Director of IQAC and regular teacher of the department, which is not acceptable in any way.

About financial irregularities at the Asian University, the report said the university has not been audited by an audit firm for most of its financial years since its inception in 1996. Electronic fund transfer system for payment of salaries and allowances to teachers and staff is not followed while cash books with copies of VAT and bills are not kept for financial transactions.

After the inspection, in January, the UGC sent a letter to the registrar of the AUB asking to stop admission of students at seven programmes of five departments of the university from spring semester until further notice. The seven programmes are BA (Hon's) in Bangla, MA in Bangla, MSS in information science and library management, BA (Hon's) in Islamic History and Civilisation, MA in Islamic history and Civilization, BEd and MEd. But the university is admitting students at the programmes in spring semester violating the UGC's ban.

When asked about the irregularities at private universities, UGC Chairman Prof Dr Kazi Shahidullah recently told the Daily Sun that it is disappointing to note that some of the private universities are violating the conditions and rules of the Private University Act despite repeated reminders from the UGC to comply with the provisions.

He also said the commission is now showing relaxation about the irregularities due to the coronavirus pandemic but it will take necessary measures soon after the situation improves in the country.