Alongside classrooms studies, research is considered of much importance in higher studies. The teachers are lead in research, and the the students to follow.  

That is why PhD degrees are considered important at the university level of teaching. Yet, the number of teachers with PhD degrees in the country’s private universities is decreasing sequentially. The number of private universities is on the rise though.

People concerned about the education sector say eminent people used to be involved in establishing private universities once. They used to put emphasis on the standard. But for the last two decades, private universities are being approved indiscriminately, under political consideration.

Many are setting up universities with a commercial outlook. They don’t want to employ quality teachers with proper salaries and allowances. As a result, the quality of education is deteriorating in these universities.

A few of the well-known private universities are however putting emphasis on research and have relatively more teachers with doctorate degrees.

Currently, there are 108 private universities in the country. Six of them haven’t started operating yet. There are a total of 15,393 teachers in the private universities. 78 per cent of them are on full-time appointment.

A review of University Grant Commission (UGC) data from 2017 to 2021 showed that there was a slight increase in the number of teachers with PhD degress only in 2019, as compared to its previous year. The number of teachers with higher degrees declined consecutively in all other years.

For instance, there were 3,209 teachers with doctorate degrees in 2019 while there were 2,950 of them the next year. Finally, it went down by 6 people in 2021. At present, 1,817 of the full-time teachers are with PhDs and the rest of them are on part-time appointment.

North South University has the most number of teachers with PhD degress and MPhil degrees -- 283. Apart from that, Independent University has 228, BRAC University has 194 and East West University has 178 teachers with PhD degrees. When it comes to education standard and reputation of private universities, these are leading the way.

And, newly-established University of Brahmanbaria ranks at the bottom regarding their number of teachers with PhD degree, with just one.

UGC’s evaluation is that the number of teachers with PhD degrees in the private universities is declining, which is not a good sign. Students would have benefited more if there more teachers with PhDs among the full-timers.

There goes the issue of teachers with PhD degree decreasing in number. Private universities put less emphasis on researches also.

UGC information says that in 2021, 25 universities didn’t allocate even a single taka in the research sector. Only a handful of universities like that North South University, Independent University, East West University, BRAC University, Daffodil International University and United International University are ahead in research as well.

When asked about decline in the number of teachers with PhD degree and putting less emphasis on research in the private universities, North South University vice-chancellor Atiqul Islam told Prothom Alo, the number of teachers with PhD degree in their university is rising.

He had the idea that it was rising in other ones as well. But, now it’s being revealed that it’s on the decline. Alongside teachers’ salary the work environment is crucial too actually.

Students decrease while universities increase

UGC stated, all the private universities there have been set up in the country, almost half of them have been established within the last decade. Till 2012, the number of private universities in the country was 60, which has crossed 100 now.

The number of students at private universities has been going down successively from 2019, though. There were 310,107 students in these universities till 2021. And, it’s 5.5 per cent lower than the previous year.

Demand of business-related subjects declining

Review of the data from 2019, 2020 and 2021showed that, the number of students at business faculty has decreased every single year. While the number of students at the engineering, technical and science-related departments are on the rise.

In fact, the number of students with degrees in technical and technological subjects has gone up in 2021, compared to the year before.

When asked about the issue on the whole, former UGC chairman Professor Nazrul Islam told Prothom Alo, private universities are more or less ‘teaching universities’, where degrees are provided only. And, there’s no emphasis on research except for research on a handful of subjects.

In order to recruit standard quality teachers, facilities including better salaries and allowances have to be provided. But, the majority of the universities run with junior teachers. And the lack of standard quality teachers with PhD degrees is affecting the quality of education as well.