Considering the current reality, it is becoming difficult for all the students now scattered across Bangladesh to continue classes online
Association of Private Universities of Bangladesh (APUB) has proposed creating student-friendly special internet packages so that students across Bangladesh can continue their classes online, in a hassle-free manner.
While speaking over phone with Bangla Tribune on the current crisis situation and responsibilities of the universities, APUB President Sheikh Kabir Hossain came up with the proposal.
He said the traditional education system has come to a halt because of the worldwide spread of coronavirus and Bangladesh is no exception.
The private university sector has largely been affected by the crisis, he added.
An announcement made by the University Grants Commission (UGC) led to the suspension of academic activities online by private universities, said the APUB president.
On April 6, the UGC urged all private universities to stop admissions, online examinations, and evaluation during the time of coronavirus.
Meanwhile, many students’ capacity of paying tuition fees is being reduced due to the Covid-19 crisis, which led to a massive fall in the income of private universities.
Also, as the semesters cannot be completed without any examinations amid the crisis, it has created risks of session jam for students.
* Special internet package can help students maintain online classes properly
* Students urged to pay tuition fees as per their capacity
* Open-book exams, assignment based evaluations can be options to avoid session jam
* Private universities facing massive economic loss, need incentive from the government
Probable ways to adapt
There is no other option than to maintain online classes and examinations to help private universities recover from the risks and to keep the education system moving, said the APUB president.
Considering the current reality, it is not possible for all the students, now scattered across Bangladesh, to continue classes online, he said demanding a special student-friendly internet package so that students can continue their academic activities.
The APUB president called upon the government and telecom companies to open up a small portion of unused bandwidth to help implement the package.
Many private universities have already started researching how they can maintain online education using feature phones and 2G connections, he said adding that it will help the students who are now living in areas where internet connection is relatively slow.
Despite the fact that all private universities suspended online examinations considering the UGC regulations, the commission can reconsider its decision regarding exams.
"This will help educational institutions to continue without the risk of session jams," he added.
Citing open-book exams and assignment based evaluations as options, he said Bangladesh will have to move forward by adopting the policies followed across the globe.
“We do not know how long the coronavirus situation will continue for. The whole nation will be affected if the educational activities get shut down completely,” he feared.
Keeping this in mind, he called upon authorities to allow classes, exams, and other academic activities online utilizing maximum benefits of the concept of Digital Bangladesh.
Financial situation of universities
The APUB chairman said only a handful universities may have the financial solvency to pay salaries to its teachers and staff, but many universities do not.
In this situation, the private universities will face massive economic loss, like any other institution, he said.
During the Covid-19 crisis period, he requested students to pay the university tuition fees as per their capacities, but there will be no pressure, he said.
The financial situation of every student is being considered from a humanitarian ground and it will be continued in the future, he assured.
To combat the crisis, government support is required, he said adding that the sector has already requested the government for an incentive package for private universities.
He urged everyone to be humane amid this global crisis and requested everyone to work together to continue the digital education system so that the higher education system is not hampered.