Private universities emerged on the scene when the public universities could not accommodate increasing number of students. After the Private University Act was passed in 1992, it was hoped that students would no longer need to go abroad for higher education, and there would be scope of quality education in the country.
At the outset, most of the private universities appeared to be reputed institutions. However, some of these universities started ‘selling’ certificates. Had the irregularities in the private universities been stopped then, higher education in the private sector would not have fallen to such a devastating low.
According to the official statistics, 104 universities are now running with a total of 350,000 students. Educationists say nearly 20 universities are maintaining some sort of quality but all of them have not managed to establish a permanent campus. There are at best 60,000 students in these universities. The question naturally arises, what sort of education are the others are getting? This was revealed in a series of reports recently published in Prothom Alo.
Records show the recently approved private universities defy the rules and regulations. According to Prothom Alo reports, 34 private universities were approved during the rule of BNP while 65 universities were approved during the rule of Awami League. The owners of these universities are ruling party leaders, MPs, ministers and former ministers. Businessmen who have close connection with the ruling party also got approval. There is no rule barring those with political affiliation from establishing universities, but it is important that they follow the rules and regulations in running these universities and meet the UGC conditions.
UGC outgoing chairman Abdul Mannan said most of the private universities do not abide by the rules and regulations. They are doing business in the name of education. This is sheer cheating the students, he said.
Some universities are running in rented premises while some universities are running without vice chancellors for four years. Legal action has to be taken against those who are cheating the students in the name of higher education.
Universities are not mere institutions to distribute certificates. The universities have to impart knowledge and to create knowledge simultaneously. The way of creating knowledge is research. But there is no research in most of the universities. How can research be carried out if there are no permanent teachers, necessary infrastructure and education material?
With a few exceptions, most of the private universities are operating haphazardly. They are merely providing certificates. We urge the government to form an independent and neutral commission to investigate the allegations of irregularities and corruption against the private universities. It is essential to take legal action against the universities which are violating rules and regulations. Selling certificates in the name of higher education has to be stopped. Students and guardians have to be aware of all this when coming to private universities. They should avoid the universities which are selling certificates instead of imparting quality education.