Recently, UGC submitted an investigation report to the education ministry on former VC of Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology (RUET) Rafiqul Islam Sheikh. In the report, UGC found the former RUET VC guilty of giving unusually high marks to preferred candidates in the oral test who had failed or were lagging behind in marks in the written test to make sure they top the recruitment exam.
They also found evidence of him tampering with the marks of the oral test and recruit preferred candidates. He was also found to be guilty of recruiting double the number of vacancies that were advertised.
The majority of the dubiously recruited employees were Rafiqul Islam’s brother, brother-in-law or other close relatives.
In the investigation report, UGC asked for the termination of the employees that were recruited in this manner. They also recommended taking appropriate actions against Rafiqul Islam and the acting registrar Selim Hossain.
It remains to be seen what actions the ministry will take. But past experience shows that the education ministry is eager to conduct the investigations but for some ‘invisible reason’ is not too keen on dishing out punishment.
Recently, UGC also investigated the allegations made against the Islamic Arabic University in the capital’s Basila area. It has already submitted the investigation report to the ministry. Sources at UGC said that they have found evidence of misdoings in the recruitment and promotion process of the university.
But recently, the ministry has hardly taken steps against university officials, which is evident by looking at some of the recent incidences that have been covered by Prothom Alo.
On February this year, UGC submitted a report to the education ministry on the allegations made against Khulna Agricultural University. In the report, UGC said that the university’s VC Shahidur Rahman has wrongfully appointed his son, daughter, the son of his brother-in-law and nephew at the university. He also tried to appoint his wife as a professor, but couldn’t complete the recruitment.
The VC also accepted his ‘wrongdoings’ to the investigation committee. Still, no actions were taken against him.
Due to this inaction, the VC has continued his attempts to make the wrongful recruitments permanent and recruit more of his preferred people, alleged the university professors. Some members of the University Syndicate also raised their voice against such recruitments during a syndicate meeting.
Many UGC officials said, they thought about revoking the grant of the university. They also sent a show cause notice to the university. But now UGC has taken a softer stance in the issue.
UGC has submitted an investigation report in last January on Sylhet Medical University. In the report, it said that the university authorities have employed 109 personnel more than what was approved. They made these recruitments even before the academic activities had fully started.
Out of these temporary recruitments, some were relatives of the VC and relatives of multiple local parliament members. So far, no steps have been taken against them.
There are allegations of irregularity in the making of a laboratory at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Digital University in Gazipur. About Tk 60 million have already been spent in the making of the laboratory even before the UGC approved the course and its syllabus.
The UGC said in the investigation report, the university doesn’t have the required classrooms to open the new department. Before even getting approval for the department, the ‘big data lab’ has been built spending Tk 5,94,64,000. But no action has been taken so far. The university’s VC Munaz Ahmed Noor’s term as the VC has also already ended.
Former VC of Begum Rokeya University Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah and other university highups were found to be guilty of corruption. But he held a press-conference and challenged that these were lies spewed against him with the help of education minister Dipu Moni.
According to a report published in Prothom Alo, Rajshahi University’s former VC M Abdus Sobhan intentionally reduced the requirements to allow his daughter and son-in-law to be recruited as lecturers. His administration has employed 34 such lecturers by reducing the requirements. The UGC investigation committee recommended terminating these recruitments and taking actions against the VC.
But no such steps were taken. To make matters worse, on his final day in power, he recruited 141 personnel on a temporary basis.
There is also an allegation that the education ministry ‘didn’t like’ the initial investigation report. So, it added another member in the committee and conducted the investigation again. But nobody could say what was found in the second committee’s report, or what steps were taken.
Seeking anonymity, multiple UGC officials said, due to ‘various reasons’ the ministry doesn’t act on the investigation report.
In the past, some university VCs have been removed from their post after students and teachers launched a movement against them for corruption and irregularities. But the ministry has never taken action against them.
Only former VC of Begum Rokeya University in Rangpur Abdul Jalil Miah was sent to jail in a case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission and he was removed from his post at the very end of his term. This remains the sole example of action being taken against a public university VC for corruption.
So, the question naturally arises, what’s the point of conducting such investigations, if there are no intentions to take any action? In the current reality, irregularities at public universities are not surprising. But if effective measures aren’t taken, such wrongdoings will continue unchecked. To at least set an example, the ministry has to take some action against corrupted VCs of public universities.