DU to celebrate 104th anniversary tomorrow amid calls for modernization

Dhaka University
File photo

Dhaka University, the oldest university in Bangladesh, marks its 104th anniversary tomorrow, celebrating a rich history of academic excellence and significant contributions since its establishment in 1921. Known for producing intellectuals, writers, scholars, and scientists, the university also played a pivotal role in the Language Movement and Liberation War.

However, despite its illustrious past, the university faces numerous challenges, including technological lag, insufficient funding, inadequate campus and library facilities, and the impact of student and teacher politics.

In the 21st century, characterised by rapid technological advancements, Dhaka University still relies heavily on outdated analogue methods. This reliance complicates processes, making them lengthy and burdensome for students, from admission procedures to certificate issuance. Although there are signs of gradual progress towards adopting digital solutions, the pace remains slow.

Students must physically appear on campus with papers and money to complete the admission process, which can take up to two days. This involves standing in long lines to deposit money, a process that could be streamlined through digital payment systems. While Teletalk services are used for initial exam application fees, the rest of the process remains manual.

Further inefficiencies are evident when students visit hall provosts for signatures, often being told to return the next day. Examination fees are still deposited through cheques, a process ripe for digitalisation via mobile banking.

The university has yet to implement digital biometric authentication systems, leaving teachers to manually call attendance, which affects both time management and evaluation integrity. There are also concerns about teachers arriving late or cancelling classes, disrupting the academic schedule, especially for non-resident students.

Senior students who completed their post-graduation years ago still occupy hall residences, exacerbating accommodation shortages. Hall provosts and house tutors are rarely available or interact with students, further complicating residential life.

Introducing digital authentication technologies, such as fingerprint sensors, card punching machines, or facial recognition systems, could significantly improve identification, monitoring, and accountability within departments and halls.

University labs also suffer from a lack of modern digital facilities, limiting students' ability to engage with current technologies. Dean of the science faculty, professor Abdus Samad, acknowledged the issue, saying, "We are mostly running on old technologies and devices, which are insufficient and less accurate. This makes it difficult to produce world-class research."

Financial constraints are cited as the primary barrier to acquiring sophisticated technology. Director of the ICT Cell, prof. Mohammad Asif Hossen Khan, noted that while the technology for biometric identification is available, its implementation requires university approval.

Responding to concerns about the lengthy admission process, prof. Mostafizur Rahman, convener of the DU online admission committee, assured that technological improvements are planned for the next year.

In a recent senate meeting, DU vice-chancellor prof ASM Maksud Kamal highlighted the difficulty for developing countries' universities to meet certain global standards, including advanced technology, but emphasized the need for support from alumni, the education ministry, and related bodies to drive progress.

As Dhaka University celebrates its 104th anniversary, the focus remains on overcoming these challenges to continue its legacy of excellence and innovation.