UGC probes 10 vice-chancellors

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Teachers of the Begum Rokeya University have long been protesting against the absenteeism and other irregularities of the vice-chancellor professor Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah. Two probe bodies under the University Grant Commission (UGC) are now investigating the allegations against Kalimullah and the university authorities. One of the probe bodies recently has found proof of Kalimullah’s misconduct in a development project for the university.

Another committee of the UGC is investigating Khulna Agricultural University VC professor Shahidur Rahman Khan’s involvement in 15 allegations including nepotism in the recruitment.

Currently, UGC is investigating financial and administrative irregularities at 13 autonomous and public universities. The investigations also bring 10 former and current VCs under the scanner.

The universities are Begum Rokeya University, Khulna Agricultural University, Barisal University, Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University, Islamic Arabic University, Noakhali Science and Technology University, National University, Pabna Science and Technology University, University of Chittagong and Comilla University.

The alleged persons

Barisal University’s founding VC professor Harunor Rashid Khan highlighted his financial contribution to the construction of the ‘First Vice Chancellor Trust Building’ on the university premises. The construction cost of Tk 13,152,000 and the price of the 0.14-acre land for the building were all arranged from the university fund.

UGC probe body led by Dil Afroza Begum found that Rashid or anyone else didn’t contribute a single penny to the building construction. The probe body recommended all the vice-chancellors in the country to maintain transparency, accountability and good governance in monetary practices. It also recommended the education ministry issuing necessary directives for the university authorities.

But seemingly, the universities pay no heed to the recommendations as some VCs have been accused of non-transparent monetary practices, unaccountability and bad governance in recent years.

Khulna Agricultural University VC allegedly appointed his son as section officer on an ad hoc basis. His daughter's recruitment as a faculty member was also controversial. Moreover, the VC tried to appoint his wife, who is an upazila-level livestock officer, as a faculty member. The education ministry, however, has cancelled the appointment.

A UGC probe body led by professor Biswajit Chanda is investigating 15 allegations brought against the VC.

Replying to Prothom Alo, Shahidur Rahman Khan said that there is no bar on recruitment of a VC’s son or daughter.

Another probe body, led by Biswajit too, is investigating allegations brought against the Begum Rokeya University VC Kalimullah. Besides, a UGC probe body led by professor Muhammed Alamgir is investigating a questionable work order for a development project in the university.

Among the VCs under scrutiny, Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University VC Md Alauddin is accused of illegal recruitment and withdrawal of excessive honorarium.

Islamic Arabic University VC professor Mohammad Ahsan Ullah, Noakhali Science and Technology University VC professor M Wahiduzzaman, National University VC professor Harun-or-Rashid, Pabna Science and Technology University (PSTU) VC professor M Rostom Ali, three former VCs of PSTU, University of Chittagong and Comilla University are also under the UGC scanners.

UGC secretary Ferdous Zaman told Prothom Alo that UGS investigates and informs the government about the findings with recommendations. Here, the government is the authority to take necessary actions.

Former chairman of UGC and former VC of the University of Chittagong, professor Abdul Mannan, said immoral personalities should not be appointed at the top post of the universities. He suggested that every allegation brought against the universities' top officials be brought to justice.

*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print and online edition, has been rewritten in English by Sadiqur Rahman.