A regular student of Dhaka University's Faculty of Business Studies spends only Tk 11,000-12,000 every year to complete master's degree. But for an evening course student, the cost is Tk 200,000-250,000.
Education business is so lucrative in this faculty's nine departments that the university enrols nearly double the regular students for evening and four professional courses thrice a year.
Such courses are also available in other faculties of the university.
The courses are of different lengths. Some are two years long, some one and a half years and there is short course of one year too. Employees of different corporate firms get themselves admitted into these courses for their professional development.
The courses include specialised masters, executive masters, professional course, diploma course and short course.
In three sessions -- summer, winter and spring -- a total of 2,160 students enrol in the evening and professional courses under the business faculty.
Some 1,250 regular students, on the contrary, get the scope of admission in honours in the first year in each academic session.
The university has a total of 12 institutions and 84 departments. Of them, evening courses are conducted at 25 departments and 10 institutes alongside regular day shifts.
Classes of these courses are held since afternoon to night. Some classes are taken only on the weekends (Fridays and Saturdays). Professionals and graduates of other universities can get admitted in these courses.
The regular students of DU alleged that teachers are more interested to take classes in the evening courses for higher remuneration. Besides taking classes in the evening courses, many take classes of private universities. As a result, Dhaka University is being deprived of both educational and research activities.
In the 52nd convocation of Dhaka University on 9 December, speaking as the chief guest, president Abdul Hamid bitterly criticised random evening courses introduced at universities.
Two days into the president’s remark, University Grants Commission (UGC) in a letter to university vice chancellors made a 13-point recommendation including closure of evening courses.
Evening courses at Dhaka University: Department of Information Science and Library Management, Department of Political Science, Department of Sociology, Population Science, Development Studies, Department of Criminology, Department of Microbiology, Department of Clinical Psychology, Department of Oceanography, Department of Disaster Science and Management, Department of Nuclear Engineering, Department of Communication Disorder, Department of Public Administration, Department of Theoretical and Computational Chemistry, Department of Theoretical Physics, Department of Television, Film and Photography, Marketing, Finance, Accounting and Information System, Management, Management Information System, Banking and Insurance, Tourism and Hospital Management, International Business and Organisation Strategy and Leadership.
The institutes, which conduct evening courses, are Faculty of Business Studies, Education and Research Institute, Social Welfare and Research Institute, Information Technology Institute, Disaster Management and Vulnerability Studies Institute, Nutrition and Food Science Institute, Energy Institute, Health Economics Institute, Statistics Research and Training Institute and Modern Language Institute.
According to available information at different faculties, about Tk 660 million is earned every year from the students of evening courses.
As per the university rule, teachers get 60 per cent of the income while 30 per cent goes to the university fund. The rest 10 per cent is spent for conducting the courses.
However, there are allegations that all the departments do not give 30 per cent of their income to the university authorities.
Students, however, expressed satisfaction over the quality of such courses. A learner said it requires additional money to study the course of same quality in private universities, but the cost is much lower in Dhaka University.
Classes of evening masters course continues for one to two hours. The duration of regular masters is nearly the same.
The teachers, who take evening classes, get Tk 80,000 every semester, said two senior FBS teachers.
However, associate and assistant professors get Tk 5000 less than that of the professors.
A section of teachers, sometimes, take classes in more than one evening courses. Students allege that such teachers take classes more seriously in the evening courses than those of the regular ones as they earn handsome there.
After completing under-graduation from a private university, Tanvirul Islam has finished MBA from the management department under this faculty.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, he said the teachers of evening courses are highly competent and he has been benefited by completing MBA from here. The cost would have been double if he had taken the same degree from a private university.
A total of 2,160 students are admitted every session for evening courses under nine departments of Dhaka University's FBS. Some Tk 200,000-250,000 is charged from a student.
There are differences in the amount of money on the basis of departments and courses.
At least Tk 432 million is earned from evening courses under the nine departments if Tk 200,000 is taken from a student. Its 30 per cent stands Tk 130 million. This amount is supposed to be given to the university fund.
Around 1,500 students get admitted for evening courses in 16 departments and 10 institutes. Each student has to pay Tk 100,000 to 300,000 as fees. If Tk 150,000 is taken on average from each student, the amount stands at Tk 225 million. Its 30 per cent stands Tk 67.5 million.
The 30 per cent income of evening courses amounting to Tk 197 million is supposed to go to the university fund every year.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, acting director of the director of accounts Ilias Hossain said the departments conducting evening courses are providing 30 per cent of their income to the university. “We don't have its specific account.”
But according to income and expenditure of the university, miscellaneous income was Tk 114 million last year. This income came from different sectors including evening courses, tender and publication.
However, Tk 23.6 million was separately shown for selling admission forms of evening courses.
When asked about the matter, Ilias Hossain declined to comment.
About the allegations brought against evening courses, vice chancellor Md Akhtaruzzaman said a committee has already been formed to review the courses. Decisions on evening course will be taken on the basis of recommendations of this committee, he added.
Review on the one hand, admission on the other
Jagannath and Comilla university authorities have declared to shut evening courses after the directives of University Grants Commission.
About review of the evening course, the committee chief and science faculty dean Tofail Ahmed said they will submit the report very soon.
Despite the evening courses under review, the admission for evening courses is not stopped. Most of the admission tests of evening courses for spring session had been completed before the university convocation in the second week of December last year. Admission of some courses is going on while the admission process is already completed in some courses.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, an official at Information Science and Library Management said they did not receive any directives to shut down evening course. So the admission test has been taken place on time, he added.
Context of opening evening course
Dhaka University's four senior teachers said the evening course was launched in 2001 with a view to increasing income and enhancing professional development of professionals.
Earlier, each of these teachers was at important posts of the university administration.
This course was introduced at four departments under the FBS.
Wishing not to be named, a teacher said the evening course has gotten the importance as a means of easily obtaining certificates instead of developing professional skills. As a result, the evening course is gradually taking the shape of business deviating from its principal target.
Out of the courses operating under 35 departments, 20 courses were introduced in last 10 years.
About the introduction of so many evening courses in recent times, the teacher said the corporate sector has flourished in the country.
However, the evening courses are rising from the business point of view, he added.
The teacher believes the number of evening course will come down if salaries and other benefits are raised.
Former vice chancellor SMA Faiz is against shutting down evening courses entirely.
He was in charge of VC after the evening course had been introduced in 2001. The evening course had no business goal when it was introduced, the former VC said.
A portion of fund earned from the evening course was allocated for constructing buildings, Faiz said.
He thinks some alternates can be taken into consideration instead of shutting down evening courses completely.
Education is being turned into commodities through evening courses, said DU's emeritus professor Serajul Islam Chowdhury.
He said the university is not a commercial entity so the business cannot go on in the name of education.
The educationist said, university is a place where knowledge is practised and new knowledge is created.
Following the remarks of the president and the demands of different student organisations, there is no scope of evening courses' existence, Serajul Islam said adding special courses may be introduced to enhance skill of the students.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam.