Several misconceptions exist regarding private university. Private universities of Bangladesh are not a substitute for the public ones and they stand by their own credentials now. There was a time when students opted for private universities in case of their failure to get enrolled in public universities but things have changed now proving the growing significance and standard of private universities. Private universities with their state of the art infrastructure and modern curricula can produce world class professionals. This sector is saving 100 thousand crore taka in terms of foreign exchange which is nearly 60 percent of our annual budget. (Prof Neaz Ahmed AIUB, Daily Sun Dec, 4, 2011). Now a private university is conditioned to have a permanent campus of its own. But procuring land, arranging finance and completing construction work need time. Moving towards a permanent campus in five years does not seem practical and sound. The country is losing much of the cultivable land every year. In consideration of this fact, establishing individual campus for each university means losing more cultivate land. However, to ensure quality and impart sound education, we should have big campuses for private universities. How we can do it considering the minimum loss of our already scanty land should be our national concern.
There should be an accreditation council to check the performance of private universities and ensure quality education. Government should play an enabling role rather than a regulatory one in dealing with private universities. 100 percent O and A level students don’t go abroad. 63 percent stay in the country and 40 percent get enrolled in private universities. Private universities are blamed for not doing adequate research work as is mandatory for a university. This is not actually done in public universities as well due to the lack of fund and for not getting positive support from the authorities concerned. Many private universities don’t have permanent faculty members standing as a barrier to offering quality education. This is a case which should be considered by private university authorities and we are sure that things are changing now positively in this regard. The teaching of humanities subjects, history and pure science should be introduced in private universities to give this entity an ideal one and exemption from the subject of criticism.
There lies a tradition that private university students are good in English but poor in Bengali whereas public university students are good in Bengali but poor in English which should be changed and they must be good both in English and Bengali. As 40 percent English medium students find their place in private universities, things have come to this sight. Both the groups are the future leaders and assets of the country and so they should be trained and developed to face the growing challenges of the years to come. Still eighty-five percent students of Bangladesh don’t receive university education. So, we should try to open the doors of higher education for more and more students without compromising the quality. When we would be able to ensure real quality education, it can be a good source of income for us as the students from neighbouring countries will come to get higher education here. To keep this point in mind the government may think of establishing a separate body like University Grants Commission to ensure research and quality of higher education in the private universities. Definitely it must not be an agency of bossing or controlling or centre of education policies. It will be a world class organization to enhance research and quality of higher education.
MASUM BILLAH: Program Manager, BRAC Education Program and Vice-President, Bangladesh English Language Teachers’ Association (BELTA), Dhaka, Bangladesh.