Thursday, 9 December, 2021

Barriers Created by Social Class for Bangladeshi Students Abroad

Al Jamal Mustafa Shindaini & Nabila Sultana

Barriers Created by Social Class for Bangladeshi Students Abroad

“Higher education is the strongest, sturdiest ladder to increased socio-economic mobility.”-Drew Gilpin Faust, President, Harvard University

Social class should not be the barrier for higher education. Education system should be more flexible so that we can increase socio-economic mobility. An increasing number of Bangladeshi students are going abroad to achieve world-class degrees from famous universities. According to UNESCO, every year nearly 90,000 Bangladeshi students go abroad for higher education. The top ten locations of foreign universities for Bangladeshi students are Malaysia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, India, Saudi Arabia, Japan and the United Arab Emirates. Among these Bangladeshi students, maximum is from affluent class and English medium background. Now-a-days, students from upper middle class family are also going for higher education. Actually, social class is playing an important role for a student to achieve higher education.

Social class is a concept which is centered on models of social stratification. It divides the members of a society into hierarchical categories. Upper, upper-middle, middle, working and lower are five common social classes in Bangladesh. Karl Marx glorified the economic condition to determine class. But education, wealth, occupation, income and other factors determine the social class of an individual.

Upper class family background students go abroad for higher education more than the upper middle class or middle class background families. But, other class background students are hardly seen in higher studies. There are many reasons why this inequality among students. “Pull and push factor theory of migration” can explain these reasons. Social insecurity, political instability, personal choice, quality of home country are considered as push factors and quality education, social security, opportunity for gaining standard life, world famous universities, easy application process, scholarship are considered as pull factors. Factors vary for individual and his or her class.

Students from affluent class families are more likely to make plan for higher education whereas upper middle and middle class background students cannot easily think of higher education without scholarship. Though recently the number of students are growing. But the fact is many of them survive a lot to go abroad for higher education.

There are various factors identified how social class creates barriers for students to go abroad for higher education. Some factors are discussed in this section-

Financial Condition: Financial efficiency is one of the biggest opportunity for the students of upper class families to go abroad for higher studies whereas students from middle or lower class families cannot think of a large budget for higher education. But now-a-days, various organizations provide scholarship to the students according to their skills, results and potentials. Also many foreign universities offer several categories of waivers. This is helpful for students to pay the course fee.

Recently, many upper middle and middle class background Bangladeshi students prefer Malaysian universities for lower cost of education. Also many Malaysian universities have international collaboration, joint programme with the UK, the US and other institutions.

Family Tradition: Traditions are different in upper, middle and lower class families. Mostly in upper class families, children can go abroad for various purposes. But middle and lower class families do not easily permit to go abroad.

Gender based difficulties: Female students from middle class families cannot be permitted to go abroad easily. Parents are more conscious about their marriage than education. They consider that age is important for marriage. If their daughter is more educated and aged, then it will be difficult to find a local son-in-law. This statement is less true for upper class families. But now-a-days, middle class families are aware of their daughter’s education.

Knowledge Gap: A child from upper class family can study in a good school from the beginning of his or her academic life. But a child from middle or lower class family has to survive for learning and gaining everything. So, there always lies a knowledge gap between them. Where a student of affluent family easily processes his or her application for higher education. The middle class student has to suffer in every process. It is shown that in SAT, IELTS exams, students from affluent families get better scores than the students from middle class families.

Pressure for Employment: Most of the middle or lower middle class family background students have pressure to join a job after completing their graduation and look after his or her parents. Because they do not have large income source like upper class families. So, they cannot easily go abroad for higher education.

Lower Levels of Confidence: It was seen that the students from middle class families have lower confidence than the students from affluent families.

Coping up with Other Cultures: The affluent background students can easily mix with students of different cultures in abroad. But middle class background students face more diaspora feeling.

Part time job with Education: The students from middle class families can go abroad for higher studies. But, they have to work for their pocket money. These works affect their studies too.

Having all those survival conditions, now-a-days growing number of Bangladeshi students from middle class families are going abroad for higher education. Number of scholarships from governmental and non-governmental organizations are increasing. Barriers from country to country are getting flexible. Parents send their offspring for better job opportunity, social security and other opportunities. By this time, a potential number of students from middle class background families are also gaining success with the students from upper class background families in higher education.


The writers are Assistant Professor and B.S.S. final year student respectively at Department of Sociology, Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP)