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Higher Education in Bangladesh: Status, Issues and Prospects

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Abstract

The development of a modern society depends to a large extent on the nature and standard of higher education. Higher education has enormous potential to promote prosperity in the developing nations. Throughout the World, universities change the society and remain the center of change and development. In the context of Bangladesh various Education Commissions that were set up so far theoretically emphasized on unlocking potential at all levels of society and creating a pool of highly trained individuals to contribute to the national development. But in practice these universities are very weak and do not change anything. Better understanding among teachers and students, introduction of modern teaching methods and dedication of teachers and students can improve the culture of higher education in Bangladesh. A proper academic calendar can bring discipline. Initiate to free the universities from the clutches of politics can play a lot of the overall improvement of the universities.
Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences (PJSS)
Vol. 30, No. 2 (December 2010), pp. 293-305
Higher Education in Bangladesh: Status, Issues and Prospects
Mobasser Monem
Professor, Department of Public Administration,
University of Dhaka.
Head of Research Division,
Center for Administrative Research and Innovation,
University of Dhaka, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh.
E-mail: mobasser2000@yahoo.co.uk
Hasan Muhammad Baniamin
Lecturer, Department of CSE,
The People’s University of Bangladesh.
Research Associate,
Public Policy and Governance Program,
North South University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
E-mail: hm.baniamin@gmail.com
Abstract:
The development of a modern society depends to a large extent on the
nature and standard of higher education. Higher education has
enormous potential to promote prosperity in the developing nations.
Throughout the World, universities change the society and remain the
center of change and development. In the context of Bangladesh
various Education Commissions that were set up so far theoretically
emphasized on unlocking potential at all levels of society and creating
a pool of highly trained individuals to contribute to the national
development. But in practice these universities are very weak and do
not change anything. Better understanding among teachers and
students, introduction of modern teaching methods and dedication of
teachers and students can improve the culture of higher education in
Bangladesh. A proper academic calendar can bring discipline. Initiate
to free the universities from the clutches of politics can play a lot of the
overall improvement of the universities.
Keywords: Higher Education; Bangladesh; Quality of Education
I. Introduction
The development of a modern society depends to a large extent on the nature and
standard of higher education. Thus the role of higher education is to prepare competent,
knowledgeable and far-sighted people for assuming various higher responsibilities. The
growing importance of knowledge in the modern world can hardly be overemphasized,
especially in the era of globalization and in a global environment which is fiercely
competitive. Particularly, higher education has enormous potential to promote prosperity
in the developing nations (UGC : 2006).
In Bangladesh there was a time when higher education used to be considered a
luxury in a society of mass illiteracy. However, towards the turn of the last century the
need for highly skilled manpower started to be acutely felt every sphere of the society for
self-sustained development and poverty alleviation. Highly trained manpower not only
294 Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences Vol. 30, No. 2
contributes towards human resource development of a society through supplying
teachers, instructors, researchers and scholars in the feeder institutions like schools,
colleges, technical institutes and universities. They are also instrumental in bringing
about technological revolution in the field of agriculture, industry, business and
commerce, medicine, engineering, transport and communication etc (UGC: 2005)
Institutions which are grouped together to comprise the higher education sector vary from
country to country. In the case of Bangladesh, higher education, also called the tertiary
level education is generally used to comprehend the entire range and dynamics of post
higher secondary education. This article is an attempt to address the problems and issues
haunting the universities of Bangladesh and to explore the areas for father enhancement
of these universities.
II. Higher Education in Bangladesh: The Present Scenario
i General Information
Higher education in the public sector is a legacy of the British colonial education
system. At present there are 80 universities in Bangladesh of which 26 are public and 54
are private universities. Of the public Universities ten are general universities, five are
engineering, three agricultural, five science and technological and one is university of arts
and culture, one affiliating and one offering education only on distance mode. The
number of students in the public universities is around 92,000 excluding those in the
affiliating National University and Open University offering distance mode education.
The number of students in the latter two were 800,000 and 437,500 respectively in the
year 2004-05. Thus at the moment above 1.3 million of population receive higher
education in Bangladesh of which 74 percent were male and 26 were female students in
the year 2004. The percentage of female students enrolling at the universities is on the
rise (UGC :2005). Higher education facilities of the public universities are spread over
the entire country, so that students of different regions can receive higher education
without going very far from their familiar environment at home. Thus there is at least one
public university in all the administrative divisions of the country.
ii Structure of Higher Education in Bangladesh
There are 5 types of higher education available in the country. These are: i.
General Education; ii. Science and Technology and Engineering Education; iii. Medical
Education; iv. Agricultural Education; v. Distance Education. In addition, the higher
education sector also provides Vocational and Madrasha education.
In Bangladesh higher education consists of a 3 year pass-course or a 4 year
honours course for the bachelor’s degree, followed by a two year Master’s course for
pass graduates and a one-year Master’s course for honours graduates.
iii Number of Students and Teachers in Higher Education
There are just over 1 million students studying at higher education level in the
country. The following table shows their composition: the total number of students in the
public universities is 112,430 while the affiliating National University (NU) and the
Bangladesh Open University (BOU) have total of 777,492 and 437,500 students
respectively. However, in the BOU only 84,271 are pursuing higher education studies.
Mobasser Monem, Hasan Muhammad Baniamin 295
The number of teachers in public universities other than NU and BOU is 6,280 of
whom about 17 percent are absent for different reasons. Leaving aside the absentees, the
average student/teacher ratio in the public universities is about 1:18 (UGC :2006).
The number of National University Affiliated colleges in 2001 was 1,297. There
were 32,278 teachers and 773,492 students in these colleges, which meant a 1:24 teacher
student ratio. At present, among the graduate and post-graduate students, 83% were
studying in national University affiliated colleges and the rest in the public universities
(UGC :2006).
III. Public Universities in Bangladesh
The area comprising the present Bangladesh was to have no university for a long
time during the British rule. A teaching cum residential university was set up first in
Dhaka in 1921. The second university was set up in Rajshahi in 1953. In total there had
been 6 public universities in the country before 1971. After the liberation of Bangladesh
in 1971, during the last 35 years, higher education scenario has greatly been transformed.
The number of public universities has increased significantly. Some key features of
public universities are-
Enrollment rate has increased over periods
There has been commensurate expansion of faculty in the universities. The
teacher-student ratio, on average, has not varied much. On paper, teachers
in the universities have better academic qualification now than before.
There appears to be more publications made by academics now than before.
The expansion is mostly quantitative. Quality of education has not
improved.
In general higher education is highly subsidized. In absolute term the extent
of subsidy has been increasing over time.
In the last decade the share of university allocation to total education reveals
a sew-saw trend with, however, a decreasing trend for last three years.
The employee-student ratio reveals interesting trend. Against teacher
student ratio of 1:17 on average, this ratio is 1:5 on the average.
Public universities are the foremost choice of the majority students seeking higher
education. This is for various reasons. First, these universities offer wide range of
subjects in Science, Commerce, Liberal Arts, Humanities, Engineering and Technology,
Law, Education and Medicine disciplines. Second, public universities attract the best
brains and researchers as teachers although monetary compensation for them is anything
far from attractive. Third, library, laboratory, internet and research facilities are much
better there than anywhere else in the country. Fourth, seminars, symposiums,
workshops, debates, exhibitions and visiting teachers lecture series are often held in these
institutions with a wide scope for national and international exposures for promising
young knowledge seekers. Fifth, residential and boarding facilities at low cost/subsidized
rates are available in these public universities.
i Financing Public Universities
Most of the public universities are dependent on government for funding.
However, of the 26 public universities the National University is financially independent
296 Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences Vol. 30, No. 2
of the government and very solvent. It derives its entire fund from students’ registration
and examination entry fees. The Open University of Bangladesh can cover about 30% of
its revenue expenses from the fees collected from its enrollees and the rest is financed by
the Government through the University Grants Commission of Bangladesh (Mahfuzul
Huq :2003). The other public universities meet their needs in the following ways:
Students Tuition Fees and Other Fees:
Public universities cater the educational needs of the thousands of meritorious
students at a nominal cost of TK. 12 (about 20 US cents) per month which has remained
static for about the last 75 years. Thus, it goes without saying that sum does not even
cover the cost of collection and maintenance records. Other incidental fees such as
registration fees, sports, students union fees and examination fees have, however,
increased to a large extent over the years so as to cover cost and even generate some
income for their universities. But the tuition fees can not be enhanced due to strong
pressure from students union and opposition political parties. Neither the university
administration nor the government is keen on taking serious steps to increase the tuition
fees simply because of the fear of students’ unrest and opening up a new front for
political opposition.
Government Funding
In the face of the above vis-à-vis a huge rise in costs of university administration
the government has to spend a large amount of money for the public universities from the
public exchequer every year. About 95 percent of the fund for higher education is
provided by the government while a maximum of 5 percent on average are generated by
the universities from their own resources.
Table 1: Public Expenditure on revenue account in some public universities
Universities 2002 2003 2004
Dhaka (general) 31027
(24559)
37496
(22616)
34413
(22683)
Bangladesh Agricultural 83123
(5001)
87761
(5172)
77359
(5596)
Bangladesh Engineering and Technology 34317
(7215)
36007
(7278)
35515
(7501)
Medical University n.a. 161111
(522)
154430
(553)
Source: UGC Annual Report, 2005 (Note: Figures in parentheses are the total number of
students)
The table indicates that expenditure per head varies from year to year and types of
public universities. Thus, average expenditure for medical students and agricultural
scientists has been the highest (Tk.154,430 and Tk. 87,761 respectively) particularly
because of fewer number of students vis-à-vis high fixed costs while for general
universities the average expenditure is rather low. Against the per head tuition fees of less
than 150 (about 2.5 US dollars) per year released from the students this sum of public
expenditure appears to be colossal in the backdrop of a poor country like Bangladesh.
Yet, tertiary education receives inadequate importance in the public budget. This is true
for both revenue and development allocations. While education is of all types of has
Mobasser Monem, Hasan Muhammad Baniamin 297
received the highest priority in the budget allocation (about 10-11 percent of total
revenue budget), funding for university/higher education has never reached even 1% of
total revenue budget allocation during the last 10 years.
Table 2: Revenue Allocation for Education and Higher Education in the National
Budget (in Crore Tk.)
Financial
Year
National
Budget
Allocation
for
Education
Allocation for
Universities
Share of
Percentage
of University
in Education
Budget
Share of
Universities in
National
Budget
2000-2001 34597.00 3587.46 288.67 8.05% 0.83%
2001-2002 35479.29 3738.97 293.57 7.85% 0.75%
2002-2003 39945.45 3960.39 323.53 8.17% 0.81%
2003-2004 46263.62 4474.80 389.85 8.71% 0.84%
2004-2005 50069.36 4608.85 409.11 8.88% 0.82%
Source: Bangladesh University Grants Commission, 2006
One striking feature of the revenue expenditure on education is that about 71% of
the fund allocated for education was spent on teachers’ salaries, pension and fringe
benefits, 16% on general contingency and the rest 13% only was available for education
contingency in 2003-2004.
71%
16% 13%
0%
20%
40%
60%
80%
Teac h er s
salaries
General
contingency
Education
contingency
Fund Allocation for Education (2003-04)
Yet, more surprising is the fact that only a tiny percentage of fund is allocated for
research. Thus in the year 2001-2002 only 29 million taka out of 3,773 million taka was
earmarked for research and this is certainly a low percentage compared to the developed
countries (Mahfuzul Huq :2003).
Since the close of the last century the public universities started facing huge
amount of deficit in revenue budget. Thus in the year 2002-03 it was observed that 11
older universities in the public sector had an estimated deficit of around Tk. 100 crores.
Most part of this deficit is accountable to inadequate release of fund in the revenue
budget by the government vis-à-vis the demand by the universities to the Government
(placed through the University Grants Commission).
298 Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences Vol. 30, No. 2
On the other hand, student tuition fees and other dues could not be adjusted
upward due to the vehement opposition from the pressure groups. Ad-hoc arrangements
were made to make up this deficit in the form of spending from teachers and staffs
provident fund, development fund and borrowing from banks. As a result, much needed
development works, repair and maintenance suffered (Mahfuzul Huq :2003).
Trust Funds
The older and also some relatively newer universities receive trust fund from
benevolent elite members of the public. Usually these funds are donated for particular
purposes e.g. for awarding scholarship/research grants or medals for distinct performance
in academic fields etc. in the name of some near or dear ones and hence can not be
utilized by the reciepient universities for other purposes such as infrastructural
development or defraying particular expenses that may be urgently required.
Other Incomes
Some bigger universities have a few additional sources of income rental income
from immobile properties (as residential houses, shops and related lands), income from
forestry, fisheries, orchards and dairy. However, these incomes are often negligible and
hence are not shown in the budget (UGC: 2005).
ii Quality Assurance
In the context of Bangladesh various Education Commissions that were set up so
far theoretically emphasized on unlocking potential at all levels of society and creating a
pool of highly trained individuals to contribute to the national development. For example,
National Education Commission-2000 under the title Higher Education inter alia states
that the goal of higher education will be acceleration and inventing new knowledge and
creating skilled persons (MOE :2000). But these objectives cannot be achieved if quality
of education cannot be ensured. Quality assurance in this context denotes “All the
policies, systems and processes directed to ensuring the maintenance and enhancement of
the quality of educational provision within an institution. A quality assurance system is
the means by which an institution confirms to itself and to others that conditions are in
place for students to achieve the standards that the institution has set”(Donald Ekong:
2003). It is important to note that quality is not static; with changing environment and
advancement of technology it needs to be dynamic and always endeavor for excellence.
As to the public universities, quality assurance deserves more attention because these
universities are established by the government and financed through state exchequer.
Compared to private universities, the cost of education in these institutions is less as it is
highly subsidized. In such a context and wider scope of entrance, vast majority of
students enroll themselves in these institutions. On the whole, in Bangladesh the quality
of graduates of public universities seems to have deteriorated as seen from the reports of
the Public Service Commission and the analysis of opinions of employers both in the
public and private sector jobs. This, however, does not mean absence of a small
percentage of very high quality of students.
Quality assurance must be understood with clear idea about what to be assured.
The relevant aspects in this regard assumed to be admission access policies, equal
opportunities, credit accumulation, programme design course review, resource allocation
for courses, research student’s supervision, assessment and degree, academic staff
appointment and development, academic staff appraisal, teaching and innovation,
Mobasser Monem, Hasan Muhammad Baniamin 299
academic standards, interaction with accrediting bodies and professional organizations,
securing of student’s view on academic matters (Mikas Sanyal :1992). Though
unfortunate it is largely true that quality education in the public universities has declined
and that quality assurance faces internal and external problems.
Internal Factors
a. Student Intake
University education is likely to be adversely affected by its poor base line i.e.
intake. Quality of education at primary and secondary level is not satisfactory in most
cases. Thus the outputs they provide as inputs of universities are found to have adversely
affected quality of graduates in line with ‘low level trap’ (UGC: 2005).
b. Faculty Recruitment
There are four grades of university teachers such as Professor, Associate Professor,
Assistant Professor and Lecturer. There is set rule of recruitment for which UGC has
provided a guideline. But universities are found to have modified the rules through their
respective syndicate in a lenient way. But the crux of the problem is that the best talent to
jobs in education sector cannot be always ensured due to real pay and facilities compared
to civil services and private sector opportunities.
c. Staff Development
Quality of faculty is not up to the desired level. Selection procedure though
theoretically more or less ideal yet in some cases proved faulty resulting from various
factors. The situation as to appointment in the positions of Assistant Professor and above
through upgradation/restructuring have proved to be counterproductive. Staff
development, both as idea and practice, suffers from a lamentable lack of infrastructure
facilities too. Teachers’ commitment to search for knowledge, adequate teaching norms
of academic behaviour is not above question. Teaching has become another job for
some, where consultancy has become more important. The process has been further
complicated by absence of faculty evaluation in the Universities. Improving the quality
of faculty is made more difficult by the ill-conceived incentive structures. Faculty pay is
generally very low in relation to that offered by alternative professional occupations.
d. Teaching Method
The present method of teaching the basic subjects, particularly teaching science at
all levels, have been made ineffective by outmoded method and lack of broader aspects
of disciplines. The growth of quality education at all levels is based on teaching method
to a greater extent which need to be supported with required infrastructure and facilities.
Such a situation is very much lacking which needs upgradation.
e. Library and Laboratory
Library and laboratory conditions are not conducive for quality education. There is
no denying the fact that the use of library facilities by students and teachers have
declined over the years. The teachers in most cases seem to rely on particular texts and
the students seems to possess increasingly poorer language ability to comprehend and
explore the vast expanse of scholarship that the libraries hold. The libraries are poor as
they lack adequate resources to buy recent publications and order for the basic journals.
Likewise, the laboratories suffer from inadequacy of equipments. Import dependence for
300 Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences Vol. 30, No. 2
such items have made the problems much more complex (Monjur Morshed Mahmud:
2002).
External Factors
a. Politicization
Of the external forces, the prevailing political culture of the country has been
identified as being mainly responsible for the fact that the administration, the teachers
and students body have all been thoroughly politicized. The net result is factionalism:
chaos and session-jam. In fact, the system of linking political parties with their student
wing resulting in the open political patronage to student politics has meant many things at
once; a student leader can take out a noisy procession on the corridors of an academic
building in complete disregard of the classes in progress and this without any permission
from any authority he has free access to the highest political leaders either arising form
national issue or local/university issue leading to disturbance, closure, strike at the
university causing unscheduled suspension of classes.
b. Unplanned Expansion
In absolute terms there has been an impressive quantitative expansion in the
general university education even though the rate of increase in science and technology
sector in not significant. There is no objection to such increase in line with population
increase and increase in primary and secondary level output. But the crux of the problem
is that such increase always does not correspond to the needs, required infrastructure,
faculty and financial facilities (UGC: 2006).
c. Financial Constraints
University administration faces a host of pressing problem to ensure required
facilities for academic development and quality assurance under condition of severe
resource constraints. For years it is observed that the governmental budgetary allocation
to university education has declined considerably vis-à-vis other levels of education.
Another significant feature has been that recurring expenditure increased rapidly at the
expense of development grants (Taherul Islam: 2002).
iii Public Universities: Accountability Mechanism
To run universities freely as a centre for academic freedom some facilities like
conducive environment for teaching and research, autonomy coupled with accountability
etc. are necessary. In some public universities such as Dhaka University, Rajshahi
University, Chittagong University and Jahangirnagar University, 1973 University Acts
introduced the concept of autonomy, introduced the Senate and established the principle
of collective leadership of the vice-chancellor in the Syndicate. But the gain proved short
lived for various reasons with the result that during the period 1975-90, the changed tone
of politics gave a new set of Acts for the newer universities. Autonomy, however, in the
absence of universities’ own adequate resources, and because of its sole dependence on
the government has always been fragile, in actual terms (Zillur Rahman Siddiqui :1997).
Further, it is seen that 1973 Act, provided some autonomy theoretically but the concept of
accountability of administrative personnel and teachers was very much lacking. Further,
neither the chairman nor the Dean who in terms of assigned responsibility, should be
authorities to take note of a teacher’s failure, whatever may be the nature of failure, is not
in a position to play the expected role.
Mobasser Monem, Hasan Muhammad Baniamin 301
iv Faculty Evaluation at Public Universities
Teaching is a special skill and effective teaching skill is necessary to maintain the
quality of the university. Therefore, it is desirable that some mechanism be instituted to
determine the teaching ability and or commitment of the teachers. Two such mechanisms
are (a) student evaluation and (b) peers’ evaluation. Evaluations of teachers help both self
development of the teachers and improvement in teaching and quality education. In
different countries this evaluation is done through self-evaluation scheme, peer rating,
student evaluation and management evaluation. But in Bangladesh the system faculty
evaluation is yet to be introduced due to fear of political victimization, although some
quarters strongly feel the necessity for introduction of some form of evaluation.
IV. Private Universities in Bangladesh
In the 1990s the government realized the need for setting up private universities as
it was clear that the public universities in Bangladesh would not be able to meet the
increasing demand for higher education. The government recognized and appreciated the
initiatives taken, in the early nineties by a group of educationists to establish private
universities. After due examination of their proposals, the government felt the necessity
of enacting the legal framework under which private universities could work. As a result
the National Parliament passed the Private University Act-1992. It was a milestone in the
history of higher education in Bangladesh. With the ratification of this Act, the
government lost the monopoly of providing higher education. The first government
approved private university was established in 1992 quickly followed by several others.
In 1998, the private university Act was amended to remove some inadequacies and
prevent misuse of privileges granted by the Act. At present, we have 54 private
universities in Bangladesh. Of the 54 private universities most are located in Dhaka. The
total number of students enrolled in these universities is more than 30,000. This number
is increasing yearly by 20 percent compared to 5 percent yearly increase in the public
universities (UGC: 2006).
i Justifications of Private Universities
Besides supplementing the functions of public universities, the establishment of
private universities is justified for a number of reasons. Besides factors mentioned earlier,
it was felt that in the modern world of science and technology, public universities could
not provide ample opportunities in all the need-related disciplines due to fund constraints
and other factors. The justifications of private universities are as follows:
Private universities could be guided by the market related phenomena in
providing higher education.
Higher education in the private sector can reduce the financial burden on the
government
The condition of private sector answerability can help maintain academic
schedules and avoid session jams.
Private universities can also offer a better student-teacher ratio compared to
public institutions. As a result, attendance, participation and evaluation of
students can be more easily ensured and monitored.
302 Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences Vol. 30, No. 2
ii Regulations of Private Universities
Private universities are growing fast. However, except for a handful of
universities, most of these private institutions are small in size and offer rather low
quality education in a narrow range of subjects. Many of them have no proper campus
and are located in rented facilities and run by part-time teachers. In this respect, the rules
and regulations regarding private universities need to be strengthened and their
implementation ensured. The growth of the student enrolments in the private universities
suggests that some of these universities have a good prospect. A sound growth of private
universities is important in achieving a balanced competition between public and private
universities resulting in an improvement in the quality of education. However, the
government/regulators have the responsibility of ensuring that these universities are
providing adequate standards of education.
Private universities are managed in accordance with the provisions of the Private
University Act 1992 which is in the process of revision. Ideally, private universities
should have a similar administrative structure to their public counterparts, including
Vice-Chancellors and other statutory bodies. In reality, in most cases, these
administrative structures are not in place. The Vice-Chancellors are appointed by the
Chancellor based on the recommendation of the sponsors of these universities.
Apparently these sponsors exert considerable influence in managing the affairs of the
university. The major impediments of the private universities include: non-compliance
with the statutory requirements, absence of consistent admission and examination
policies, non-transparent financial management, lack of adequate number of full-time
faculty, lack of proper infrastructure, inadequate laboratory and library facilities, absence
of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities and a commercial bias in decision making.
For private universities, specific guidelines need to be developed for ensuring a good
governance system. This should include restructuring their governing bodies and a more
transparent appointment of their Vice-Chancellors. The Governing bodies must have a
wider representation, including academics and members of the civil society. The Private
Universities should ensure strict compliance in the appointment of the required number of
full-time faculty and putting in place standard academic logistics and facilities. The UGC
should supervise private universities emphasizing the public interest point of view. The
UGC should nominate senior university professors to the academic councils and
syndicates of the private universities. The growth of the private universities must be
regulated both in terms of their quantity and quality. In the private institutes a realistic
tuition cap can be introduced and arrangements must be made so that poor students can
also study in the private institutions.
iii Financing Private Universities
The private universities are financed by the Board of Trustees of the respective
universities. The Boards in turn derive their finances out of the tuition and other fees
realized from their enrollees. The private universities earn a huge profit over costs in
running the private universities through charging exorbitant tuition fees and other charges
which are often comparable to those in the universities of affluent countries. Naturally,
only a handful of fortunate students from high-income families can afford to avail the
facilities of higher education in these institutions.
Mobasser Monem, Hasan Muhammad Baniamin 303
iv Private Universities: Quality Assurance and Related Practices
Quality in Teaching:
Offering good academic programmes is a necessary condition but not a sufficient
condition to assure quality education. The degree requirements and academic
programmes may be well designed in terms of both national and international standards,
but this does mean that the output will be of high quality. The well meaning curricula
may not produce good results if the University does not or cannot hire adequately
qualified, experienced and committed teachers to teach the courses. While the cases of a
few universities are now strong but in general, the faculty situation is very weak. When
private universities started in 1992, a few expatriate teachers from USA and only part-
time local teachers mostly from Dhaka University were hired. It was understandable in
the early stages. But even today, with a few exceptions, most private universities rely on
part-time teachers from public universities. To maximize their personal income, these
teachers from public universities teach at several private universities, in addition to their
full time job at the parent university. As a result, the effectiveness and efficiency of these
teachers tend to drop at deplorably low level. This, naturally, lowers the quality of the
private universities (Hafiz G.A. Siddiqi: 2005).
Transparency in Grading System
The examination system is a mechanism used to assess the students’ performance
in a course. In American system, one examiner, namely the class teacher concerned, is
the single and final assessor. This has merits and demerits. One demerit is that a
particular student may be favoured unduly or deliberately victimized. To avoid such
possible unwanted outcome, students are encouraged to seek the examination scripts from
the teacher and check the markings to find if any mistake is made or injustice has been
done. The teachers are required to be transparent and explain to the student why he or she
got “C” and not “A’. Such accountability of teachers helps improve the quality of
teaching.
Formation of Accreditation Council
The UGC is convinced about the inevitability of having an Accreditation Council
to ensure maintenance of a minimum standard and guaranteeing of a quality assurance in
tertiary education imparted by the universities in Bangladesh. Since the main purpose of
any exercise by Accreditation Council is to inform the stakeholders and the guardians of
the students as to the quality of education in an institution and/or of the value of its
degree, there is a need to determine yardstick/standards that should be followed by a
university in its academic and all related activities (UGC: 2005).
The UGC is at present evaluating the private universities according to a few
yardsticks. It has already set a high powered committee to work out the details of the
Accreditation Council. The committee is preparing a comprehensive set of criteria to be
used to evaluate both the public and private universities. The committee suggested that
the proposed Accreditation Council would have the responsibilities to ascertain if (a)
instructions are being imparted according to a modern, scientific and relevant curriculum
(b) by well qualified full time faculty members (c) management is transparent (d)
examination system is objective and impartial (e) accountability is established in respect
of academic, administrative and management matters and (f) compliance of all rules and
regulations is ensured. The committee suggested that the proposed Accreditation Council
would be entrusted with the responsibility of assessing and grading an institution in an
304 Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences Vol. 30, No. 2
overall sense as well as certifying all the components so that the weighted average of the
grades can form the overall grade score of the institution. In this process, those who need
the assessment of specific programmes would get to know them along with an overall
grading of the institution. The proposed Accreditation Council will be autonomous and
free from Government control. The government, through the Ministry of Education, will
play the role of a facilitator, and provide necessary funding for smooth running of the
Council (UGC: 2006).
V. Concluding Remarks
There is no denying the fact that funding from the government for higher
education and research is not at all adequate and UGC fails to provide fund according to
the need of respective universities. The very amount provided to the universities is mostly
spent for the salary and allowances of the faculty development, research and
establishment of new departments in response to the demand of time. Though presently,
the allocation budget to the education sector is higher than previous years, yet the
allocation in higher education sector is still negligible. This budget cannot satisfy the
demands of public universities. There are universities which do not spend anything for
research.
A monitoring board under the UGC can be established to assess the quality,
recruitment and efficiency of teachers. Reward to the good teachers, internet facilities,
modern library and resource centre, and establishment of human resource development
centers may improve the standard of higher education in Bangladesh. Throughout the
World, universities change the society and remain the center of change and development.
But in our country universities now-a-days are very weak and do not change anything.
Better understanding among teachers and students, introduction of modern teaching
methods and dedication of teachers and students can improve the culture of higher
education in Bangladesh. A proper academic calendar can bring discipline. One other
important thing is that a tough measure should be taken by the concerned authority to free
the public universities from the clutches of party politics.
The government must shift its focus of attention from general education to science,
technology and ICT based education. The Government of Bangladesh has recently
formulated a 20 year (2006-2025) strategic plan for higher education with the help and
support of the World Bank. In the past World Bank’s interest in Bangladesh education
sector as a donor was confined to all sub-sectors but tertiary education. Hence the fund
allocation to tertiary sub-sector showed remarkable stagnation vis-à-vis other sub-sectors.
In the last few decades the demand for tertiary education in Bangladesh has increased
tremendously. World Bank’s recent interest in our tertiary education sector is an
indication of its appreciation of this reality and the possibility of additional resource
mobilization in this sub-sector. The strategic plan document for higher education suggests
that in the face of a changed scenario of higher education, quality improvement in the
higher education has to be the main focus of attention and development of science and
technology based education should be given top priority by the government and the
private sector in the next two decades.
Mobasser Monem, Hasan Muhammad Baniamin 305
Reference:
Bangladesh University Grants Commission (2006). Strategic Plan for Higher Education
in Bangladesh: 2006-2026, Dhaka.
Bangladesh University Grants Commission (2005). Annual Report-2005
Bangladesh University Grants Commission (2004). Annual Report-2004
Donald, E. (2003). Trends from the UNESCO Regional Consultation on Higher
Education- A Concept Paper.
Hafiz, G. A. S. (2005). Quality Assurance in Conventional Private Universities of
Bangladesh: Problems and Prospects. Social Science Review, 1(2).
Mahfuzul, H. (2003). Financing Higher Education in the Public Universities of
Bangladesh: The Present Scenario. A paper present at a seminar in
september’2003 in Dhaka organised by the Bangladesh University Grants
Commission.
Mikas, C. S. (1992). Higher Education and the New International Order, London, Frances
Pinter Publishers.
Ministry of Education, Government of Bangladesh, National Education Policy-2000.
Monjur, M. M. (2002). Quality Assurance in Public Universities of Bangladesh-An
Overview. A paper presented in a seminar on “Quality Assurance in Higher
Education in Bangladesh” organized by UGC and held in Dhaka in July 2002,
Taherul, I. (2002). An Analysis of Public Recurring Expenditure of Higher Education in
Bangladesh, (A Mimeograph), Bangladesh University Grants Commission.
Zillur, R. S. (1997). Vision and Revisions: Higher Education in Bangladesh-1974-1992,
Dhaka, University Press Limited.
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Trends from the UNESCO Regional Consultation on Higher Education-A Concept Paper
  • E Donald
Donald, E. (2003). Trends from the UNESCO Regional Consultation on Higher Education-A Concept Paper.
Quality Assurance in Conventional Private Universities of Bangladesh: Problems and Prospects
  • G A S Hafiz
Hafiz, G. A. S. (2005). Quality Assurance in Conventional Private Universities of Bangladesh: Problems and Prospects. Social Science Review, 1(2).
Financing Higher Education in the Public Universities of Bangladesh: The Present Scenario. A paper present at a seminar in september
  • H Mahfuzul
Mahfuzul, H. (2003). Financing Higher Education in the Public Universities of Bangladesh: The Present Scenario. A paper present at a seminar in september'2003 in Dhaka organised by the Bangladesh University Grants Commission.
Quality Assurance in Public Universities of Bangladesh-An Overview. A paper presented in a seminar on
  • M M Monjur
Monjur, M. M. (2002). Quality Assurance in Public Universities of Bangladesh-An Overview. A paper presented in a seminar on "Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Bangladesh" organized by UGC and held in Dhaka in July 2002, Taherul, I. (2002). An Analysis of Public Recurring Expenditure of Higher Education in Bangladesh, (A Mimeograph), Bangladesh University Grants Commission.
Vision and Revisions: Higher Education in Bangladesh
  • R S Zillur
Zillur, R. S. (1997). Vision and Revisions: Higher Education in Bangladesh-1974-1992, Dhaka, University Press Limited.