Tuesday, 29 November, 2022
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Grim picture of our universities

Grim picture of our universities

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The recently published QS Sustainability Rankings 2023 once again portrays a grim picture of the higher education institutions in Bangladesh. Dhaka University (DU) and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) are the only two universities ranked in the sustainability ranking, although both of them are placed down the ladder, with DU being ranked in the 551-600 bracket and BUET in the 601+ bracket.

Bangladesh has 53 public universities and more than a hundred private universities, but to our utter dismay none of these universities could ever secure a good position in world university rankings.  The QS Sustainability University Rankings are based on two impact factors – Environmental and Social. The Environmental Impact covers three areas – sustainable institutions, sustainable education, and sustainable research. The Social Impact covers five areas – equality, knowledge exchange, impact of education, employability & opportunities, and life quality. Apparently, these factors are not satisfactory in most of our universities. Institutions like DU and BUET enjoy a remarkable reputation locally, but they look pale when compared internationally.

We think the key factors responsible for the poor performance of our universities are politicisation of higher education institutions and appointment of undeserving candidates on political grounds to the posts of vice-chancellors and other administrative staff to run the universities. Therefore, it goes without saying that lack of skilled administrators as well as a sufficient number of quality teachers in our academic institutions is costing us dearly in terms of our commitment to education. The quality of teaching has been badly affected by the recruitment of teachers on political ground.

Meanwhile, violent student politics seem to be the final nail in the coffin of quality higher education in Bangladesh. Universities are supposed to be the hub of knowledge, research and innovation where learners explore ways to find solutions to problems faced by society. But in a matter of profound sadness and shame, our public universities have become a den of political cadres who often engage in violence and undermine the academic atmosphere. It is a sad and scary proof that our authorities are not giving due importance to higher education even though it is one of the most important factors in nation building. We can only hope that the world university rankings will serve as a wakeup call.