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21 September, 2017 00:00 00 AM
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Private University Campuses

Sheikh Iraj
Private University Campuses

At present, there are 95 private universities in our country, according to the official website of University Grant Commission (UGC). Some of them have been operating for more than two decades. A large number of students study in these universities, but most of them do not have their own campuses or accommodation facilities. For some time now, the government and UGC have been asking private universities to move to permanent campuses, but only a handful have done so. This week, Y&I spoke with some private university authorities, students and UGS officials about the present state and future plans regarding the issues.    

North South University is the oldest private university in our country. Belal Ahmed, deputy director of Public Relations Department of the university, said: “We have bought a 250 bigha (about 83 acres) land at Purbachal. There, we will build a residential campus. An international tender will be floated for building it.”

Supa Sadia, public relations officer of Stamford University Bangladesh, informed Y&I that at the moment they do not have any accommodation facilities for students. They have bought 2.26 acres of land at Nawabganj in Dohar near Dhaka, and they have started constructing their permanent campus. The university authorities hope to move to their new campus by next year. Although there is no plan yet to build accommodation facilities for students, they are thinking about the issue, Sadia added.

M Jahidul Azad, assistant professor and head of English department at Prime University, said: “We provide accommodation facility for some of our female students. Our rented hostel is located at Mirpur-1. Since we plan to be a residential institution in future, the authorities are very careful in renting and maintaining hostel facilities near the main campus at Mazar Road”.

“Nearly 150 female students stay in our hostel and we pay Taka 3,000 for monthly rent, utilities and food,” said Tasnim Nahar, a student of the university. The hostel has a hallroom with satellite TV connection, a guest room and free Wi-Fi, added Sultana Payel, another student.

SK Mahabub, Deputy Director, Public Relations Department of Northern University, said: “We already have a permanent campus at Ashkona in Dakkhinkhan, near Dhaka’s international airport. Three departments have moved there and already 135 female and 165 male students are residing there. By December 30, we will completely relocate to our permanent campus. Right now, we have more than 6,000 students and our permanent campus will have accommodation facilities for 2,500 students. The campus is built on 1.66 acres of land.”

United International University (UIU) started its journey in 2003. It now has more than 6,500 students from different parts of Bangladesh. After 14 years, UIU is set to move all its academic and administrative facilities to its permanent campus at United City, Badda by spring 2018, the university’s public relations department informed Y&I in an email.

UIU purchased 25 bigha (8.3 acres) of land in 2009 for its permanent campus, which will also have residential facilities for 5,000 students. The new campus is under construction in a comprehensive manner. There will be more than 150 classrooms, 25 different labs, including electronic circuit lab, networking lab, simulation lab, etc. Furthermore, a fully automated library that supports RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) system, a multi-purpose conference hall, a fully equipped gymnasium, separate prayer halls, as well as common rooms for male and female students. The whole campus area will have access to uninterrupted advanced Wi-Fi connection.

Daffodil International University (DIU) informed Y&I via email: “DIU understands that most of its students are moving away from home for the first time. That is why we strive to make the transition as smooth as possible by offering excellent, comfortable and safe hostels within the campus. Our hostel features include separate accommodation facilities for male and female students, free Wi-Fi, study room, newspaper room, uninterrupted power supply, medical facility, playground, canteen, well-equipped gym, all types of sports facilities (indoor and outdoor), laundry and ironing facilities, hair salon, computer lab, water purifiers, prayer hall, television room, guest rooms, common room, etc. Each hostel has its own kitchen providing hygienic and nutritious meals.”  

Pritom Chaki, a student and resident of DIU’s permanent campus at Ashulia in Savar, told this reporter: “I have to pay Taka 2,000 per month for accommodation facilities. We have separate halls and kitchens for boys and girls. Our kitchen can be compared to a restaurant with choices for everyone, there is no fixed menu. The price of meals depends on what kind of items one order. It costs Taka 3,000 to 3,500 if one chooses to eat hefty meals throughout the month.”

BRAC University (BRACU) also informed Y&I via email: “BRAC University offers accommodation to female students on need basis, particularly to those who come from other parts of Bangladesh, as well as other countries. The BRACU hostel is located at Niketon in Gulshan, which is close to the main campus (Mohakhali). Meanwhile, a residential semester takes place at a specially designed campus in Savar which provides a support system that aids students to become confident, self-reliant and learn social skills.”

“The new campus of the university is located at KHA 224 (Kuril), Progoti Sarani in Dhaka. The new campus is expected to set a benchmark for design excellence among private universities in Bangladesh, combining an eco-friendly campus with a dynamic blend of technology and innovation to enable inspirational learning. The construction process of the new campus is going on at full strength, with a vision to inaugurate in 2020,” the email said.

“The Relationship Management Office provides all logistic support to the residing students. BRAC University has a well equipped medical centre, both on the main campus and at Savar campus. The medical centre at the main campus also provides medical support to residential students. These centres are equipped to meet any emergency. Recognising the importance of mental health support in personal and professional development and well-being, BRACU Counselling Unit has been offering mental health services for its students, faculty members and staff since 2002,” it added.

Rubab Abdullah, a student of BRACU, told this reporter: “We still do not have a permanent campus, but we have a campus in Savar where students have to stay for one semester. I have spent one semester there. My personal opinion is that the universities should move to their own campuses and have residential facilities there. It can be extremely hard for students who come from outside Dhaka, having no residential facilities at their universities. If one goes to study abroad, they enjoy accommodation facilities, especially in Europe.”                 

In an interview, Abdul Mannan, Chairman, University Grants Commission of Bangladesh, said: “Many private universities are in different stages when it comes to moving to permanent campuses and having accommodation facilities for their students. According to the rule, the private universities should have at least one acre of land. Some have bought more than that, again there are some who have less. It is not mandatory for private universities to have residential facilities. At the moment, we want the older private universities, some 52 of them, to move to permanent campuses. If they do not shift to those permanent campuses by December 30 this year, then we will be forced to stop them from admitting new students.”

“Of course, not all universities are old and some have yet to start their academic functions. Only a handful of private universities have residential facilities. That being said, some private universities try to deceive us. For example, some have acquired land and set up signs saying their permanent campus will be there, but there is no construction going on. There are some exceptions, like AIUB (American International University-Bangladesh), they had everything ready but they were not getting permission for gas and electricity connections. We always say that we are here to help the private universities. If any of them have any kind of problem, they can come to us and we will try to help them,” the UGC chief said.  

According to the Private University Act 2010, private universities should be non-profit institutions, but some violate that law: “There are some private universities that do not follow UGC laws at all. We audit every university and in some cases, we find foul play. Sometimes, we get threats from certain university authorities. We do not react to those because we do not want the students to be the sufferers. Some private university board members have used money from tuition fees for their own personal gains. For example, we have reports that they have used students’ tuition fees to go on family tours, but billed it under expenses of an official tour. They stayed in five-star hotels, and the list just goes on. A student must pass the admission test and have a certain GPA to get admission into a university. But some private universities have assigned agents, who in exchange for say Taka 300,000 to 500,000 arrange admission for students who do not fill those certain criteria,” claimed Mannan.

Photos: Courtesy

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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