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24 January, 2022 08:50:07 PM
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Repeated instability in universities and higher education’s future

The recent incident at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology is completely unexpected, and provocative. A huge movement has sprung up in the university centred on a trivial matter which was not at all desirable
Majhar Mannan
Repeated instability in universities and higher education’s future

Instability in the universities of Bangladesh is not a new issue and there has been a lot of writing on this subject but still no permanent solution has come yet. The environment of higher education is being disrupted again and again due to politics of teachers and students in the university. There have been a variety of questions and debates about the standard of higher education. In universities, on the one hand, the quality of education is declining and on the other hand, the rate of research is declining. University teachers have extreme factionalism and nepotism which is constantly damaging the quality of higher education and research environment. 

The negative impact of teacher politics misleads the students and due to this universities become violent at different times. The recent incident at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology is completely unexpected, and provocative. A huge movement has sprung up in the university centred on a trivial matter which was not at all desirable. The students of Sirajunnesa Chowdhury Hall made some demands to the Hall Provost but the Hall provost did not show them any kind of tactical behaviour which caused the students to fuss and they gave ultimatum. The university administration should have been kind to the demands of the students from the highest level but instead of this, the university administration went to the hard line which made the student movement stronger. 

The university vice chancellor could have played a much more tactical role as the guardian of the university and could have spoken directly to the students but instead he went to the hardline after listening to some teachers which was not correct at all. The unpleasant incident that happened at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology could have been resolved earlier. The police attack on ordinary students seems to be a failure of the university administration and the academy. The vice-chancellor of the university said that some outsiders are coming and accelerating the movement and they are provoking the situation but if that is the case then the responsibility must be taken by the vice-chancellor as he is the head of administration. Ordinary students are continuing their movement and they are on a hunger strike. The education minister has also held a virtual meeting with the agitating students but there is still no complete solution. 

Whenever there is unrest in the universities, the university administration declares the university closed indefinitely for the sake of its own safety, but does it really take into account what kind of losses the students are facing as a result? If the politics of teachers is responsible for the incident that took place at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, then it must be thoroughly investigated and a solution must be found and if it is due to the mistake of the Vice-Chancellor then the Vice-Chancellor must be held responsible. But sadly, the practice of resignation has not developed in our country yet. Whoever is in power thinks that resignation is a big defeat for disgrace to him. But they forget that a kind of dynamic personality is revealed through resignation and a kind of pride is established. 

They become supremacist after coming to power which makes them afraid to resign. Since the Vice-Chancellor of a university is appointed on the basis of party affiliation, he cannot become the Vice-Chancellor of all the teachers and he has to follow the path of a certain party which makes the factionalism among the teachers more evident. The nation expects quality education and basic research from the university and from the university teachers but such irregularities are not seen in those places today. 

University teachers are interested to move to a variety of administrative positions immediately after the appointment which leads to a decline in the quality of education and research activities. Also, many public university teachers prefer to take classes at private universities rather than their own universities and take evening course classes because of the extra money. 

If the Vice-Chancellor has to resign in order to bring back a conducive environment for learning, it should be done because a person can never rise above an institution, so the whole must come first. Those who study at university level are matured enough and they have enough knowledge so if they make any movement then it must be logical and they should not enter the field with any irrational movement. Students should never ruin their careers at the instigation of anyone because the university is a complex place and they must be aware of it. Students come to the university to build their lives so they should be given maximum attention but sadly many times students fall into the trap of dirty politics and ruin their careers.

Now the biggest question is whether all the problems will be solved if Shahjalal University of Science and Technology's Vice Chancellor Farid Uddin Ahmed resigns. We have to get to the root of the problem, because resignation is not the answer. If the Vice-Chancellor has made a mistake then he should be held responsible for it  and in the same way if the students are distracted by someone and participate in such movement then they have to take that responsibility and they have to deviate from that path. If the vice chancellor resigns, the situation may calm down temporarily, but the problem will remain at the root. There is nothing wrong with having student politics in the university but if it goes to extreme level then it is definitely harmful. The learning environment and research status of the universities in Bangladesh is known based on various international standards and research. The basic research in the universities of Bangladesh needs to be further enhanced and at the same time every effort needs to be made to maintain the quality of higher education and in order to do so the teachers must stop this politics and rivalry. University teachers are our most respected personalities and we expect something good from them. Recruitment of university teachers through nepotism must be stopped and if qualified and meritorious students are given a place here then universities will become the real peak of higher education.

The writer is Assistant Professor, B A F Shaheen College, Kurmitola, Dhaka Cantonment.


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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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