Allocation per student should be increased for higher studies

Who reaps the benefits of the funds allocated by the government for higher studies? Does any equality prevail there or only acute disparity? The data of government expenditure on students in public universities revealed by a recent report published by University Grant Commission (UGC) is quite shocking.

It is evidently unusual to have stark difference between the per student expenditure of one public university and another public university.   

According to a Prothom Alo report, the government spends Tk 752,697 for a student of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Digital University established in 2018. The number of students in this university is over 200. Only Tk 1,150 taka is spent on a student under the National University.

There are 3 million students in 2257 colleges under this university. Among them, about 1.5 million are honours students. Expenditure per student in Open University is 1,786 taka. It has 600,000 students.

It is true that specialised education, especially information technology, engineering, science, agriculture and technical education will cost more than general education. But that doesn't mean the difference in expenditure per student will hundredfold. Not everyone studies arts and commerce in the colleges affiliated to the national university which has the lowest expenditure on students. Some of the students there also study science.

In terms of expenditure per student in the university, the things that are considered as the basis are infrastructure development, maintenance, salaries and allowances of teachers, employees, pensions and so on. In that case the expenditure may be slightly higher in the new university. Yet it cannot be several hundred times higher. Needless to say, students are deprived of many facilities in educational institutions where the cost of education is low.

According to the manpower structure, the number of teachers in the colleges under the National University is much less than the ratio of students. Many posts are vacant in various departments. Classes and exams are also not conducted on time. Even in many old colleges, vacancies have become regular. Quality education cannot be expected in this situation.

Questions have also been raised over the accuracy of the expenditure figures mentioned in the UGC report. According to the UGC report, the expenditure of Dhaka University and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology is Tk 21,238 and Tk 23,960 per student respectively. On the other hand, according to the officials in Dhaka University, the amount of expenditure per student there is 212,000 taka.

Despite the inconsistency in the accounts, it must be admitted that the two universities with the largest number of students have the lowest expenditure per student. But only 1.5 million students are studying at the undergraduate honors level in the National University. There are only 314,930 students in other public universities.

If the government wants the students of colleges affiliated to national universities as to developed as a skilled workforce, the allocation per student must be increased. It is a daydream to expect quality higher education with less allocation in the university which has the largest number of students.