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6 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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UNREST IN PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES

Failure of VCs, teachers’ political links blamed

“VC posts are filled up with those having political affiliations instead of academic excellence and other qualities”
Harun Ur Rashid, Dhaka

Several public universities are facing a chaotic situation because of rampant interference by the government, political adherence of teachers’ associations, failure of Vice-Chancellors (VCs) to run academic and administrative activities and so on.  The situation has led to the shutdown of a number of public universities, like Jahangirnagar and Khulna University of Engineering and Technology (KUET), over alleged irregularities and corruption.

Recently, there was unrest at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University, Gopalganj, over irregularities and corruption charges against its VC. The VC had to resign bowing to students' demand. The post of the VC is still vacant there.

Students and teachers are continuing their movement demanding the VC’s resignation at Jahangirnagar University. KUET was shut down on Friday over clashes centring around a football match.

Normalcy is yet to return at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) after the killing of a student, Abrar Fahad, recently.

Dhaka University also faced unrest over confrontation between student groups in recent times. There are even allegations against the incumbent VC for admitting 39 students on political consideration.

Expressing concern over the prevailing unrest in different universities, educationists have said that such a situation is not at all desirable because it hampers education, the backbone of the nation.

They said public universities are autonomous bodies, but these educational institutions do not have the autonomy in that sense because of  government interference in activities like appointing VCs, teachers and others.

They said a number of public universities were set up as per the President Order 1973. Bangabandhu promulgated the Ordinance with the spirit that the universities should be

run as per their autonomous power and the government would not interfere, but it is not seen now, they observed.  

They said posts of VCs are being filled up with persons who have political affiliations instead of academic excellence and other qualities.

On the other hand, teachers’ associations are divided on political grounds and have lost the strength before the 90s when they were more powerful because of their idealism. The academicians further observed that supremacy of a section of students on the campus is also responsible for the chaotic situation.   Student politics has become the means of making a fortune from the huge amount of money given to the universities for development work.

They also said the culture of impunity has led to the lack of accountability and transparency in the activities of the public universities, which allow a section to do what they like.

They said though the voices of general students are silent in most of the cases because of the fear for life. sometimes their voices are heard as was seen at BUET.

Professor Emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury of Dhaka University told The Independent yesterday (Tuesday): “We can see the interference of the government in university activities. It should be run as an autonomous body. Such interference hampers the academic and administrative work. Universities cannot decide who would be the VCs.”

“There is unrest in universities because in most of the cases the VCs cannot show their skills in administrative and academic activities,” he added.

Earlier, the teachers’ associations were strong and they used to act as a watchdog in the administrative activities of the universities. But it is no longer the case, he said.

“When teachers are recruited on political consideration without academic excellence. So, proper services cannot be expected from them,” he observed.

A section of students gets favour in the university whereas others are deprived of it, which leads to the silence of voices of general students, he said.

Dr Syed Manzoorul Islam of Dhaka University said: “The unrest and chaotic situation in the public universities are seen because of various reasons. Firstly, the universities should run as autonomous bodies, but we see direct interference of the government, which is a violation of the autonomous spirit promulgated by Bangabandhu.”

“The universities lost its autonomous spirit after the 90s. VCs were not appointed blindly on political consideration even during Ershad’s regime. Earlier, VCs were wise and respectable persons. But now such posts are filled up by government’s favour,” he added.

“After the 90s, we see political appointment of teachers. The teachers’ associations were strong but now teachers have been divided under different political banners,” he observed.

He said though the University Grants Commission is the apex regulatory body of the universities, it cannot function because of the interference of bureaucrats.

Serajul Islam Choudhury said: “The government should not interfere in the working of the universities. Let the institutions enjoy its autonomy for their proper development.”

Besides, the VCs should be appointed on the basis of academic excellence, and should not be political appointees, he added.

Asked how a peaceful ambiance could be brought back to the universities, Dr Syed Manzoorul Islam said: “The government should stop interference in the universities. The VCs should be appointed on merit and from a non-political background.”

He also mentioned that political will is necessary to create a proper academic atmosphere in the universities.

He said a group of lackeys has been created in the universities due to politics without idealism. “The culture of impunity should not be allowed. There should be accountability and transparency in the universities if we want to avert unrest or a chaotic situation in the universities,” he asserted.

He also said when the VCs give indulgence to a section of students for personal gains, the universities are sure to fall into chaos.

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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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