Is BSMMU a family employment centre?

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

Whenever someone becomes the vice-chancellor of a university, the merit and brilliance of their family members appear and they get jobs easily. Earlier, many news reports of vice-chancellors’ nepotism have been published.

One of the vice-chancellors even changed the university recruitment policy to give his relative a job. Several vice-chancellors have fled campus at the dead of night in the face of student movements. Some vice-chancellors even had to face anti-corruption commission (ACC) cases.

On 23 May, Prothom Alo published a report about jobs being guaranteed at BSMMU if a relative of the vice-chancellor.

The report contained allegations of recruiting relatives by defying the rules, giving jobs in exchange of money, irregularities in airplane fares and not depositing the rent from shops and canteens in the university fund during incumbent vice-chancellor Sharfuddin Ahmed’s tenure.

Prothom Alo’s news also reports that Tanvir Ahmed, the younger son of the vice-chancellor had sat for the admission test of post-graduation (MD-MS) course, held on 9 December 2022.

According to the documents obtained from the office of the controller of examinations in the university, the vice-chancellor himself headed the overall supervision committee of that exam. But the rule of the university is that if a relative of any office bearer applies for a job, they cannot be included in the recruitment process.

Tanvir is a postgraduate student at BSMMU. Simultaneously, he has been a consultant in the otolaryngology department (ear, nose and throat surgery) since September 2021. He got the job during his father's tenure.

Tanvir's father professor Sharfuddin Ahmed became vice-chancellor of the university in March 2021. Tanvir's wife Farhana Khanam is a physician as well. She got a job in BSMMU’s pediatrics department on 1 January.

Sources said that at least 11 such relatives are working in the university. And seven of them have been appointed after professor Sharfuddin Ahmed’s appointment as the vice-chancellor.

Two of the remaining four were appointed while Sharfuddin was the pro vice-chancellor of the university. When the other two got appointed, he was the president of BSMMU unit of Swadhinata Chikitshak Parishad (SWACHIP), the organisation of pro Awami League physicians.

On 29 January, a youth made a written complaint to the prime minister’s office claiming that recruitment at BSMMU happens in exchange of money.

There was a an incident of physical assault at the vice-chancellor’s office last 6 February centering the issue of recruitment. A complaint regarding the vice-chancellor’s irregularities has been submitted at the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) as well.

The vice-chancellor however denying the nepotism allegations has said that everything was done within the law. He said it’s unlikely for so many relatives to be recruited.

Did then someone else take the jobs under the guise of being his relatives? One of those recruited persons said that the vice-chancellor wasn’t a close relative.  

BMMU has a reputation of being the top medical education institute of the country. Allegations of nepotism and recruitment in exchange of money against an institute like this needs to be investigated with due importance.

Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA) secretary general Ehteshamul Huq Choudhury told Prothom Alo, “We have been hearing of different irregularities of the BSMMU authority for quite some times. We have been pained and and embarrassed to hear this.”

The allegations brought against BSMMU vice-chancellor need to be investigated in a fair and impartial manner. We draw attention of the health ministry and the university grants commission towards this matter.

The reputation of one of the country’s best education and medical service institute cannot be allowed to be ruined for the whims of certain persons or a group of people.