Private universities in the doldrums

Oct 4: THERE is a lot of discussion about private universities…but little has been done to improve them. The main problem is the flawed law laid out in a hurry in 1992. To make things worse, the universities did not operate in line with the law.

The first batch of private universities took off in a better condition. Now many of them - with so-called outer campuses - just sell certificates. Some private universities are over-staffed, some are running short of teachers.

Thousands of students, left out of the race for public universities, rush to private universities only to get disappointed. The University Grants Commission, the watchdog of universities, had set up a committee to clean up the mess. But its recommendations did not work out under political pressure of a political government.

This year, the caretaker government stepped in and redesigned the law to shut the 'outer campuses'. Two-thirds of teachers have to be full-timers. A vice-chancellor must be an academician with 20 years of experience. A private university has to pay Tk25 crore, up from five crore takas, in reserve against permission for the running of the campus.

We should keep in mind that many laws were not enforced in the past. Private universities were built for students who failed to enter public universities. Many more students would have gone abroad for higher studies if the system had not been in place. Not everyone can afford it. The concept of a private university is a noble one. But most of them have failed to live up to standards. Most are just raking in money. Dawn

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