Private university management: Legal umbrella is a must
The concept of private university in Bangladesh has become popular due to the decadent politics, terrorism, censure of the session, narrowing the expectations of growing higher education in the country's public universities. Besides, it has reduced the flow of affluent students who want to go abroad for study.
Private universities have made many successes in a short span of time to meet the demands of higher education. However, there are also some failures. The time has come to go ahead with the unlimited possibilities of meeting the needs of higher education at the private level. The highest Constitutional statutory body of university education management, "University Grants Commission in Bangladesh" identifies the priority sector in the management of private universities and the need to revise the steps taken in this regard have been demanded. The changed conditions of the 21st Century make matters worse.
The Private University Act 2010 mentions explicitly that surplus money or any surplus generated by the university must be reinvested. However, there are allegations that unaccounted money is being siphoned by the authorities of many private universities. If we look at the genesis of private universities, some universities initially, or even now, have been sponsored, and these so-called founders believe that they own this 'business.' And many believe that since they invested money in the university, they would get some returns. The 2010 Act has tried to change this attitude of university authorities but if not strictly monitored, the so-called founders or sponsors will continue to siphon off the money meant for further investment in the institute.
When the Act was first promulgated in 1992, it stipulated that a statue needed to be formed. Till today, no university has been able to create the first statute. The lack of a statute leads to the operational variations in different universities. Public universities have statutes that give details of some of the operational aspects that should be followed by all of them.
The Act stipulates that private universities should provide tuition waiver for students from freedom fighters' families, and those belonging to poor students, those belonging to remote areas, and other disadvantaged groups.
This, we believe, is not being maintained by most private universities.
If we compare the per student operation cost of private universities and public universities, we'd find that there is not much of a difference.
The only difference is that students of public universities are enjoying free education while this advantage is not made available to students of private universities. The capital investment cost is, however, much higher for public universities. Another issue that is concerning is members of the trustee board of some universities are often paid a large amount of money in the name of honorariums. There needs to be a ceiling in this regard. Thus, there should be some improvements in the legal umbrella and infrastructure.