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7 July, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Rajshahi University steps into 66th year

Historic varsity plagued by session jam, accommodation shortages

Around 11,000 seats are available in 17 dorms against 25,000 students
Jahidul Islam, RU
Historic varsity plagued by session jam, accommodation shortages

Rajshahi University (RU), the second-highest educational institution at the tertiary level in the country, is the largest seat of learning in northern Bangladesh. It celebrated its 66th anniversary Friday.

The university is hamstrung by an accommodation crisis, a budget deficit and session jam.

Over the past six-and-a-half glorious decades, a large number of students and teachers from this university have displayed their ingenuity and intellectual potential in their respective fields throughout the world, receiving widespread fame and acclaim.

The university entered its 66th year Friday. This bustling centre of higher studies embarked on its journey on July 6, 1953. Since then, the institution has rendered commendable service in the fields of higher education, research and dissemination of knowledge. It accommodates some 25,000 students every year.

A noted lawyer and landlord of Natore, Madar Bux, a member of the East Pakistan Legislative Assembly, Abdul Hamid, a prominent educationist, and Sheikh Ansar Ali, a retired judge led the movement for the establishment of the institution at that time. In the wake of such a movement, the Rajshahi University Act, 1953 (East Bengal Act XV of 1953) was passed by the East Pakistan provincial Assembly on March 31, 1953.

On July 6, Prof. Itrat Hossain Juberi, a noted educationist and the principal of the then Rajshahi Government College, was appointed the founder vice-chancellor of the university. Though the university was established in 1953, its normal academic activities actually began in 1954. Initially, six academic disciplines—Bengali, English, History, Philosophy, Economics, and Law—were introduced. Simultaneously, a discipline on Education (BT) was opened, but it was discontinued a few years later.

In the initial stage, 12 degree colleges and eight intermediate colleges were affiliated to this university. It started its academic activities with only 161 students, five of whom were girls, and a total of 20 teachers.

At that time, academic and administrative activities were held at different buildings, including Fullar Hostel of Rajshahi College, the historical Bara Kuthi, B.B. Hindu Academy, the house of Mitra Mahashoy and the 18th-century Dutch trading house.

The university shifted to its own campus from 1961 to 1964 after the construction of academic, administrative and residential ‘bhabans’ (halls).

Under the Colombo plan, Australian architect Col. G. Swani Thomas, in association with famous architect John A. Ziamanek, designed the infrastructure of the university. It covered some 303.80 hectares, including the Narikelbaria agriculture unit.

The problem of accommodation was solved in 1961, when the university shifted to its own campus at the “evergreen” Motihar. Administrative activities resumed after the completion of the present administrative building in 1964. The first Science Building was the first academic building and the only tin-shed Motihar hall was the first residential hall of the university.

In the past 65-year-long history of the university, over 169,000 students have obtained their graduation and post-graduation degrees, according to administrative sources. More than 1,621 scholars across the country have been awarded M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees from here.

It now has 57 academic departments, six higher research institutes and 17 residential halls with single dormitories for M.Phil. and Ph.D. fellows. More than 32,000 students are currently studying here and some 1,250 teachers are engaged in imparting knowledge to them. RU has held nine convocations so far. Elections to the Rajshahi University Central Students’ Union (RUCSU) were held 15 times but suspended for 19 years.

Students and teachers of RU have always played vital roles in different democratic movements. These include their movement for the cancellation of the report of the disputed Education Commission of 1962, the mass uprising of 1969 for democracy and, above all, active participation in the War of Liberation in 1971. During the mass movement of 1969, the students of this university erupted in fury and Dr Shamsuzzoha, the then proctor, sacrificed his life to save them from the so-called law enforcement agencies.

At present, the accommodation crisis is the main problem on the campus. Only around 11,000 seats are available in 17 halls against 25,000 students. Apart from the acute shortage of accommodation, session jam, the lack of modern transport, medicare and computer facilities as well as a well-organised science laboratory and the dearth of books in the central library are the major obstacles for students and teachers. The budget deficit and the concomitant financial crisis are responsible for these.

Prof. ANM Jahangir Kabir, a senior teacher of the Management Studies Department, said: “A congenial atmosphere of studies and research helps very much to eliminate session jam and improve the standards of education and research of a university. The university should take steps to improve the standards of administration and enhance academic manpower through various training programmes, including computer courses and office management courses.”

Dulal Uddin, Asadulla Hil Galib and Md Rasel—students of the Business Studies faculty—wanted the RUCSU elections to be held soon. They demanded an assurance that peaceful co-existence among the students’ bodies in the residential halls would be maintained despite differences in their political ideologies and affiliations.

University registrar Prof. MA Bari said the authorities will take all necessary initiatives to enhance educational standards and eliminate session jam, restoring the congenial atmosphere on the campus.

He also vowed to free the campus from terrorism, emphasising the need for mutual understanding and development of camaraderie among the students, teachers as well as leaders and activists of different political bodies to preclude chaos and conflict.

 

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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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