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Private Universities in Bangladesh do not Offer Fundamental Subjects

Online Desk | September 23, 2015
Less basic courses in pvt varsities

Less basic courses in pvt varsities

If a university fails to offer courses in fundamental subjects like basic sciences, humanities and fine arts, can it be called one! Many scholars in Bangladesh, including UGC member Md. Mohabat Khan, would say no. Most private universities in Bangladesh do not include humanities, fine arts and even basic sciences in their curriculum.

"If they are not offering subjects like history, geography and philosophy, they cannot be called universities", said historian Sirajul Islam Khan. "If they want to be called universities, they must have some universality about their courses", says UGC's Mohabat Khan.

But managements of private universities say they are not offering these subjects because of "lack of demand". A check into subjects offered by the private universities reveals not one of them offers history and most do not have subjects like mathematics, physics, chemistry, geography, philosophy and Bengali.

Eighty-four private universities have come up since a 1992 law provided for them, but the infrastructure and quality of teaching in many of them is an issue. Like the private universities, science and technology universities under the public sector established after the 1990s also do not offer courses in basic sciences.

The University of Dhaka started in 1912 with 12 departments - Bengali and Sanskrit, English, Education, History, Arabic and Islamic Studies, Persian and Urdu, Philosophy, Economics and Politics, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Law. The other public universities established later also offer courses in such fundamental subjects.

Three of the private universities offer courses in Philosophy; three in Chemistry, five have a separate department for Physics, seven have Bengali and ten others offer courses in Mathematics. Private universities say that there's a lack of demand for courses in basic subjects. "We do not get students who are interested in these courses, so we don't offer them", said Daffodil University Pro Vice-Chancellor Golam Rahman.

শিক্ষা সংক্রান্ত খবরাখবর নিয়মিত পেতে রেজিস্ট্রেশন করুন অথবা Log In করুন।

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Former UGC chief Nazrul Islam said, "They (private varsities) argue that such courses are not offered as they do not get students". East West University Vice-Chancellor Ahmed Shafi agreed. "Private universities were not established to serve the people, rather to make profit. I had disagreements with the owners over offering courses in fundamental subjects".

Private universities are operated under trusts and get tax benefits. There are allegations that funds from these trusts are used for investment in other projects. Former UGC chief Islam blames the lack of 'specific regulations'.

"The law says universities will be allowed to operate if it has three faculties with each offering two courses. But there's nothing binding on offering courses in fundamental subjects." He claimed that he has been arguing for long to restructuring the UGC for a while so that it is duly empowered. "The UGC is a toothless tiger as it has no power".

His immediate predecessor AK Azad Chowdhury also says there's a lack of monitoring by the regulatory body. "Courses under fundamental subjects should be made mandatory. Nothing is done by the UGC, even I was not allowed to take any steps", he said.

UGC member Mohabbat Khan, however, said that they have asked the government to empower them. "We can force the private universities, if we are empowered more".

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