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3 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Irregularities, conflicts dog private universities

HARUN UR RASHID

The number of private universities is increasing every year. But many of them are entangled in internal conflicts, involved in an alleged certificate business, and running academic programmes without permission.Sources say some of these universities have scant regard for government rules and are being run according to the whims of their authorities by flouting the Private University Act, 2010. They also say that the government has failed to evolve a monitoring mechanism to prevent the violation of the law, although the number of private universities is increasing every year.

Sources in the education ministry and the University Grants Commission (UGC) say they sometimes cannot take action against these private universities for legal violations as these educational institutions are run by influential people or manage to obtain  stay orders from courts.

On January 28, a new private university—the ZNRF University of Management Sciences at Gulshan in the capital—obtained a temporary permission to run, education ministry sources say.  The founder of the university is Dr M Jubaidur Rahman.

According to the UGC, the number of private universities, including the new one, is currently 96. Although the government has decided in principle not to allow more universities to be set up in the capital,  they are often being established close to Dhaka.

In a recent letter, the UGC informed the education ministry that there are 54 private universities in Dhaka alone, nine in Chittagong, four in Sylhet, three in Narayanganj and Comilla, two each in Rajshahi, Natore, Khulna and Barisal, and one each in Manikganj, Faridpur, Gazipur, Kishoreganj, Jamalpur, Shariatpur, Cox’s Bazar, Feni, Bogra, Sirajganj, Chapainawabganj, Kushtia and Saidpur.

Among the 95 private universities, the letter said only two—Ahsanullah and East West University—have received permanent certificates, while City University has got a conditional permanent certificate. Besides, the development activities of some of these universities are being hampered due to conflicts among the members of their board of trustees and cases being filed against one another. Moreover, normal activities of some universities have slowed down due to differences of opinion between board of trustee members, vice chancellors (VCs), pro-VCs and treasurers.

According to the letter, among the 95 universities, 60 have VCs, 21 have pro-VCs and 43 have treasures. But 23 universities do not have VCs, pro-VCs and treasures appointed by the President.

Many of the private universities are not recruiting teachers, while there have been allegations against some universities of being involved in certificate business.

Some of the universities had formed illegal sub-committees instead of forming legal committees in accordance with the Private University Act, 2010, the letter said.

UGC sources said the universities running illegal sub-committee did not care about the commission or the education ministry. The letter also said some universities were running academic activities without the UGC’s permission or after obtaining stay order from the court. Only 29 universities have updated their audit reports. It has been alleged that the board of trustee members of some universities are involved in embezzlement.

Even the children of freedom fighters and poor and meritorious students are not getting the scope to study free of cost in these institutions. As per the law, 6 per cent of such students must be given that opportunity.

Even the libraries and laboratories of most of these universities offering science and technology courses are allegedly not up to the mark. About 27 universities did not spend any money on research last year.

The letter said most of the private universities were reluctant to run academic activities on permanent campuses, though the timeframe of their temporary certificates had expired.

Sources said President Abdul Hamid, who is the chancellor of all the universities, would sit with the authorities of the private universities on February 5 to discuss various issues including the irregularities.

Academicians say that the government should assess the need of the universities, the availability of teachers, and other infrastructure. Otherwise, the quality of education would suffer terribly, they feared.

“We love to believe that entrepreneurs open these universities in good faith. But when we get reports of myriad irregularities against them, we can understand their true intentions,” UGC chairman Abdul Mannan told The Independent recently.

“We’ve reports that many universities have been opened for business purposes. For example, some universities have been opened to promote the certificate business. Even if we try to close  these universities, we can’t do so overnight,” he said.

He also said that it was not difficult to take action against those universities that had been grossly flouting the law. But strong will was needed in this respect, he added.

Recently, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) got allegations of money laundering to the tune of Tk. 325 crore and selling of fake certificates by the authorities of the University of South Asia. The ACC is now investigating the matter. The UGC, in 2016, had advised the ministry concerned to take action against the university after finding various irregularities, but to no effect.

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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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