Repeated UGC warnings fall flat
None of the private universities, set up since 1992, have received permanent certification, or permission, as they they have not fully adhered to the Private University Act in 21 years, the University Grants Commission said. Most of them have continued flouting the law. They have yet to move to own campuses, which they were supposed to do in seven years after establishment. They are still running illegal outer campuses, which is prohibited by the law. Some of them are mired in ownership conflicts, which unless resolved, could usher in presidential intervention. Only a handful of the universities are into research, which is mandatory for them.
In all such violations, the University Grants Commission has warned the universities several times. But owners have yet to resolve these problems.
Forty-one of the 54 private universities that have received a provisional certification for operation have yet to move to their own campuses. Thirteen universities have so far moved to their own campuses.
Two of such universities are in operation on court orders after being banned by the commission. Nine are running illegal outer campus and six are mired in tussles over ownership. Only thirteen of the universities have moved to their own campuses.
UGC officials said that the 54 universities were set up as non-profit organisations between 1992 and 2006.
There are now 70 private universities in the country and 16 of them received approval only in 2012.
The officials said that there were widespread allegations of corruption against the universities. Many of them are running illegal
outer campuses and are engaged in ‘selling graduation and post-graduation certificates.’
Private universities are also increasing fees every year, causing sufferings to students.
The UGC chair, AK Azad Chowdhury, said that they would take action against universities breaching the law.
Abul Quasem Haider, vice-chairman of the Association of Private Universities Bangladesh, said many universities were breaching the law but ‘the government is not executing the law as many of the errant universities belong to ruling party people.’
In January 2012, the government gave private universities one more year to move to their own, permanent campuses for the second time. But the ultimatum fell flat as only East West University and BRAC University could move to their permanent campuses by the deadline.
A meeting between the commission and the education minister, Nurul Islam Nahid, on January 30, 2012 decided that no universities would be allowed to offer new courses and open institutes or faculties or extend campuses until they moved to their permanent campuses.
The government issued the first ultimatum to errant universities in December 2010 saying that they would not be allowed to enrol students from October 2011 onwards if they failed to move to their own campuses.
The Private University Act 2010 stipulates that a university must own a permanent campus on an acre of land in capital and two acres outside of the capital seven years into its operation.
Apart from the East West University and BRAC University, others that have moved to their own campuses are the North South University, the University of Science and Technology Chittagong, the Independent University Bangladesh, the International University of Business and Agriculture and Technology, Ahsanullah Science and Technology University, the Premier University, Stamford University, the City University, Bangladesh University of Business and Technology, the International Islami University Chittagong and the BGC Trust University Bangladesh.
UGC officials said eight universities were building their own campuses. Five more have bought land and have their building designs approved but have yet to begin start construction. Six universities have bought land and waiting for Rajuk approval of their designs. Seven universities have bought purchased land but have yet to finalise building designs. Five universities have pieces of land smaller that what they are required to have by the law.
Although the education ministry and the commission banned academic activities on outer campuses in 2007, at least nine universities that are still running outer campuses illegally are the International Islami University Chittagong, the BGC Trust University Bangladesh, Darul Ihsan University, the People’s University, the Prime University, the Northern University, the Southern University, the Asian University of Bangladesh and Atish Dipankar University of Science and Technology.
A judicial committee investigating irregularities in Darul Ihsan University found that it had illegally set up more than a hundred outer campuses across the country and had been engaged in selling certificates. The committee recommended the cancellation of university certification.
Atish Dipankar University of Science and Technology is running at least five campuses at Uttara, Mirpur, Panthapath, Dhanmondi and Purana Paltan in Dhaka. The People’s University has illegal campuses at Paltan, Badda and Uttara in the capital.
The International Islami University Chittagong has illegal campuses in Dhaka. The Northern University has outer campuses in Khulna and Rajshahi and the BGC University has such an illegal campus in Chittagong.
Atish Dipankar University of Science and Technology, Darul Ihsan University, Dhaka International University, the Prime University, the IBAIS University and the Asian University of Bangladesh are mired in ownership conflicts, UGC officials said.
They said that there are four groups of people who are claiming ownership of Darul Ihsan University. The AA Fazle Rabbi group set up a campus at Ganakbari of Savar, the Abul Hossain group in Rajshahi, the Akbar Hossain group across the capital, and the Monirul Islam group at Dhanmondi in Dhaka. The groups have filed at least 10 cases against one another.
Former president Iajuddin Ahmed’s wife Anwara Begum was owner of Atish Dipankar University of Science and Technology and ownership dispute surfaced as soon as the incumbent government assumed office.
The university’s pro-vice-chancellor Abul Hossain first tried to take over. Anwara Begum set up a separate trust as she was forced to leave the university trust.
Now Awami League lawmaker Ishrafil Alam is chairman of the trust, composed of some former Chhatra League leaders.
Zakaria Lincoln, who founded the university, was the board chairman but his brother Kawser forced him to leave the campus. Now Shawkat Aziz, son of the Partex Group chair, MA Hashem, is chairman of the board and Kawser is vice-chairman.
Both the groups have contacted the commission, seeking help in dispute resolution.
The Asian University now has two boards as Abul Hasan Mohammad Sadek and Harun Mian, who are brothers, have claimed the university ownership. The university is also facing several cases regarding ownership.
Two groups are claiming the ownership of the Prime University and are running the university on two campuses under two boards — one on Darussalam Road under Sajjatuz Jumma and the other at Uttara under Abul Hossain.
The Dhaka International University is also facing trouble regarding the ownership as its founder, former lawmaker Mokbul Hossain, is trying to take control of the university. Mokbul is said to have been drive out from the board during the tenure of the BNP-led government.
Shahidul Kadir Chowdhury, son of the university’s founder ABM Mafizul Islam, is now chairman of the board.
According to Article 35 (7) of the Private University Act 2010, if there is an impasse in any private university or education is hampered and student’s interest is endangered, the chancellor, which is the president, can make intervention at the recommendation of the education ministry and the University Grants Commission.
The Association of Private Universities vice-chairman, Abul Quasem Haider, said that most of the universities had either bought land or were waiting for Rajuk approval of the buildings.
He said the act does not have a specific recommendation about errant universities being taken over by either the ministry or the commission.
‘Because of the problems in six or seven universities, people are becoming suspicious about all private universities. We want a resolution of the disputes and the government must take action to discipline these private universities in keeping with the law,’ he said.
‘Some universities are running outer campuses under the influence of ruling party men and they are engaged in selling certificates,’ Quasem said. ‘Our association also resents laws being flouted.’
The UGC chair, AK Azad Chowdhury, said they would soon sit with the education ministry to plan actions to be taken against these errant private universities.
Courtesy of New Age