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16 June, 2021 05:12:32 PM
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Addressing the sorry state of private universities

The number of students receiving education at different levels has increased manifolds. Due to facilitating and subsidizing the secondary and higher secondary level of education, the demand for higher education has increased dramatically.
Alaul Alam
Addressing the sorry state of private universities

Coronavirus has already triggered a great blow to the education sector in the country as educational institutions have been experiencing the shutdown since the start of the pandemic. For nearly one and half a year students, teachers, guardians and the concerned have been counting the loss due to uncertain closures of education. Virtual education is ongoing but how far this new normal trend of teaching and learning would address to check the catastrophe in education is a matter of debates?

Many experts have opined that online education has failed to address many problems in teaching and learning, rather a digital-divide causing inequalities in education has widened. However, it is true that in Bangladesh over the years we have seen a revolution in education. The number of students receiving education at different levels has increased manifolds. Due to facilitating and subsidizing the secondary and higher secondary level of education, the demand for higher education has increased dramatically.

To meet the demand of higher education, private universities are playing a crucial role now. In our country there are 107 private universities where nearly 5 lakh undergraduate and graduate students are studying. It is estimated that around 16000 teachers and 13000 employees are working here. These universities contribute to expanding higher education in the country. Not only that, they have helped the country to reduce students from going overseas that saves foreign currency and brain drain.

But it is sad to see that private universities are undergoing the unprecedented shocks during the pandemic. Though they are continuing online education since the very announcement of the government, they are experiencing a great economic peril. There is a dearth of student enrollment amid the uncertain closures. Along with this, their collection of tuition fees from the existing students has decreased dramatically which poses heavy burden for them.

Again, it is common to notice that most of the students find scopes first in the public universities, then to be in the private ones. Due to the delay in admission test at public universities private universities are not finding any scopes to manage students that put them into struggles. Not only that, the dropout rate of private universities has increased amid the uncertain closures.

It is also unfortunate that many guardians who would meet the expenses of their sons and daughters educating at these universities have lost their jobs and in some cases many have counted loss in business. Such situation discourages many students to continue education, rather they find scopes to help their families.

Certainly, this situation is very hard to be acknowledged by many that why private universities will fall into economic shock as students of these institutions come of affluent families. Obviously, there are a few number of private universities in the country where access to higher education is limited only for the students coming of the families of high officials and affluent business people. But in general, the data show that students from the middle class, even lower middle class are entering private universities for higher study.

It is obvious that the most vulnerable are the teachers and staff working at private universities as they are undergoing unpaid and in many cases ill paid as long as the pandemic engulfs us. But we cannot deny that there are a few universities who have strong financial base enough to support their teachers and staffs.

Amid such uncertainty of private universities the proposal of imposing 15% tax on the private universities would be a double blow for them expecting many likely to face the verge of extinction. Undoubtedly, if this proposal is approved in the budget 2021-2022, all the stakeholders including students and their guardians and the concerned will bear the heavy brunt of it.

Many education experts opine that this pandemic has made many private universities vulnerable. It has been a challenge for them to survive with providing salaries for teachers and staff along with a huge burden of house rent. They claim that some newly-approved universities might face permanent closures through enduring the tax. According to university owners’ association, the proposed tax is contradictory to the Private University Act, 2010.

However, it is obvious that this present government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is doing many to ensure quality education for the nation. By the time, with her prudent leadership the country has achieved many acclamations in the international arena. She is committed to uplifting our education in the global standard. To emphasize the knowledge on science and technology a mentionable number of science and technology universities have been established by this government. On top of that, to accelerate the desirous outcome in education, private investment in higher education has been highly encouraged.

But it is unfortunate that universities have not retained their past glories, rather teachers’ recruitment using unfair means, false research, examination fraud, and fake degrees are rampant. In these years, it is common to hear from media reports that vice chancellors of majority of the universities remain associated with many irregularities but hardly have they got punishment except disposal from the deputed post. Such unexpected activities badly affect our achievement in higher education.

To promote the quality of the country’s higher education there is no alternatives to make competitive education atmosphere. Allowing private universities to go with public ones undoubtedly, maximizes our outcomes in the field of education. To ensure sustainable education we hardly have any scopes to overlooking the sorry state of private universities caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The writer teaches at Prime University. He is also research scholar at the IBS. Email: [email protected]

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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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.

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