Public universities can't run this way


A section of Dhaka University students stage a sit-in programme in front of the vice-chancellor’s (VC) residence, demanding an end to the accommodation crisis in the dormitories on 29 October, 2019. Photo: Prothom AloThere are no vice-chancellors in two public universities of the country at this moment. Students have been demonstrating for removal of their respective VCs in three public universities. In some other universities, teachers are divided into pro- and anti-VC factions and are at loggerheads.

This information speaks volume about the state of our public universities right now. Barisal University has been running without a VC for six months and posts as important as registrar and treasurer have become vacant recently. Uncertainty has been looming over payment of teachers and staff's salary.

Students of Jahangirnagar University and Pabna University have taken to the street demanding removal of their VCs. The demonstration demanding the removal of JU VC Farzana Islam has been continuing for months. Students staged sit-in and blockade programmes on the campus. Teachers have also become divided over the issue. Clashes also ensued cantering the question of VCs removal. The same kind of incident happened at Haji Danesh Science and Technology University.

An applicant in lecturer post has brought allegation of taking bribe against the Pabna University of Science and Technology VC Rustom Ali. An audio conversation allegedly between the VC and the job seeker has been making round on social media. The university authorities have served three teachers show cause notices for commenting on the issue.

Protesting at the notice, students locked the main entrance of the university on Tuesday. The students’ demands included withdrawal of show cause notices, resignation of university proctor and student adviser, ensuring VC’s all-time stay on the campus, decrease of examination fees, improvement of the playgrounds and setting up a Shaheed Minar, among others. Many questions have remained unresolved although the situation has become normal due to the intervention of the local lawmaker. The allegation brought against the VC is a serious one and it should be investigated properly.

One of the demands made by the PUST students was the VC's all-time stay on the campus. The VC, who is the chief guardian of a university, conducts administrative works staying outside of the campus is unthinkable.

Since Bangladesh University of Engineering Technology (BUET) student Abrar Fahad's murder by Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) leaders and activists, BUET has been experiencing a deadlock in its academic activities.

Vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University (BSMRSTU) Khondoker Nasiruddin resigned from his post amid student protests in October. But, the authorities have not yet recruited anyone in his post.

The Prothom Alo report that reveals the picture of ragging in several universities' dormitories is horrifying. Despite knowing about the ragging culture, the university authorities remain silent.

Dhaka University students even staged a sit-in programme in front of the vice-chancellor’s residence recently, demanding an end to the accommodation crisis in the dormitories.

In this way, neither the country's education nor higher education can operate. The government apparently does not have a minimal responsibility to look after the universities. The University Grants Commission (UGC), responsible for monitoring the universities, has no power. And the education ministry talks tall but does little.

The government should take all possible steps to bring back fair and healthy atmosphere in all public universities.

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