International students in Bangladesh on the decline
The number of international students coming to study in Bangladesh universities is declining gradually, according to the latest annual report of University Grants Commission (UGC).
The report, which was prepared on the basis of information of 2022, was published in October last year. At the time there were 53 public universities and 110 private universities (academic activities were in 100). Some 4,756,747 students study in the universities including affiliated colleges and madrasas.
According to UGC, there were 2,317 international students in the public and private universities in 2020. The number decreases to 2,281 in 2021 and 1,957 in 2022.
When asked about the matter, former UGC chairman Abdul Mannan said on the one hand the number of international students are decreasing while the Bangladeshi students are going abroad to study on the other hand.
He also pointed out that the international students may decrease due to absence of quality education and congenial atmosphere.
Although the number of universities has increased, competent teachers cannot be created, the former UGC chairman added.
He lamented that meritorious students could not be attracted to teaching profession.
Abdul Mannan said the number of universities is increasing in the countries from where international students would come. For example, he cited Malaysia, Nepal and Bhutan.
Ibrahim from Nigeria has come to study in Bangladesh. He is doing post-graduate work in disaster science and climate resilience department in Dhaka University. He stays in Sir PJ Hartog International Hall. He said it is challenging and expensive to get admitted to top universities in Europe and North America. Bangladesh was a good destination for him.
International students at 26 public universities
Of the students, 670 international students would study in 26 public universities. Of them, 166 are female students. The number of international students was 677 in 2021 and 767 in 2020. The highest 191 international students study in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University. 117 international students are studying in Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science & Technology University and 72 international students study in Bangladesh Agriculture University in Mymensingh.
Maybe the quality education cannot be given for which they would be attracted. Moreover, the environment which is needed for the international students does not exist.
A total of 59 international students study in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University (BSMRAU) in Gazipur, 43 in Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, 34 in Khulna University, 29 in Dhaka University, 27 in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, 24 in Rajshahi University and 21 in Patuakhali Science and Technology University.
The international students, who are studying in other universities, are below 15 each.
A separate residential hall named 'Sir PJ Hartog International Hall' was established. A small number of international students alongside junior teachers stay in this hall.
Ibrahim from Nigeria has come to study in Bangladesh. He is doing post-graduate work in disaster science and climate resilience department in Dhaka University. He stays in Sir PJ Hartog International Hall.
He said it is challenging and expensive to get admitted to top universities in Europe and North America. Bangladesh was a good destination for him.
Analysing information of international students, it was found that the number of international students has not crossed 1000 in the last one decade.
In the last 10 years, the highest 804 international students were in different public universities in 2018.
International students from 37 countries study in 32 private universities
The number of international students is higher in private universities than public universities. According to UGC, 100 private universities ran academic activities in 2022. Of them, 1287 international students were studying in 32 universities. Of them, 260 are female students.
In 2021, there were 1604 international students in the private universities. In a gap of one year, the number of international students has decreased by 317.
According to UGC, international students from 37 countries will study in private universities in 2022.
The countries include India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, South Sudan, China, Japan, the US, Egypt, Palestine and The Gambia.
When asked about the reason behind decreasing international students,
UGC chairman professor Muhammad Alamgir said maybe the quality education cannot be given for which they would be attracted.
Moreover, the environment which is needed for the international students does not exist.
Muhammad Alamgir laid emphasis on increasing the quality of education to attract the foreign students.
*This story, originally published in Prothom Alo print and online editions, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam