POST TIME: 11 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Shrinking research in universities

Shrinking research in universities

For a long time we are lamenting that in Bangladesh’s universities hardly any significant research is being conducted other than the regular classroom teaching. Even these classroom studies of courses are also not properly done in many instances. Before exams, most students memorise answers to some set questions, appear in the exam and come out of universities with certificates, good or bad. The status of our universities has been reduced to schools or colleges where only academic programmes are performed for giving certificates.

But a university, by definition, is not a place for giving certificates after successful performance of academic courses only; far from it, it is a broader place of knowledge creation for disseminating that knowledge to the world outside. For this knowledge creation, universities have to conduct research, organize seminars and symposiums. In the world’s best universities—none of our universities now has a place in their list—these things are done profusely and new knowledge is produced which come to our universities in the form of books or research articles. None of our universities has a claim to originality.

But it does not mean that our students do not have talent and ingenuity; when the very best of our students go to the world’s best universities, they are making mark of their talent. Our universities are failing to nurture their talent. Why it is so? One reason is that, our universities do not have enough funds. That is a good point. It is usually taken for granted that at least six per cent of a country’s total GDP should be sanctioned for education, but in Bangladesh it is only two per cent. And we can hardly expect that, with such poor funding, universities here will have enough share of allocation for generating activities necessary for knowledge creation.

Still, there was a time when faculties of Bangladesh’s universities were taken on the basis of merit only, now political consideration greatly dominates selection of faculties for departments. In the PhD research, researchers without qualms of conscience lift pages after pages from books of others and let it pass as their own.

We do not know why Rajshahi University has recently raised the required qualifications of MPhil and PhD enrolment, but because of introduction of new rules, the university is getting fewer candidates for these research programmes. That means research is shrinking here even more. For lifting the status of Bangladesh’s universities, the education ministry as well as the University Grants Commission must revise its policy on the country’s universities. It should not be forgotten that lifting our universities would mean lifting our country itself.