Government has directed universities to ensure that staff are not laid off and their salaries are paid
Association of Private Universities of Bangladesh (APUB) has requested the government for an incentive package to pay its employees and smoothly conduct the academic activities amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Considering the ongoing situation, the apex body of private university owners in Bangladesh hopes the government will provide necessary help based on their letter submitted to the University Grants Commission (UGC), said APUB Chairman Sheikh Kabir Hossain.
“We need a sizeable financial support package to continue academic activities including administrating exams and conducting admission procedures online. It is also badly needed to pay the teachers’ and other employees’ salaries,” Kabir told the Dhaka Tribune on Wednesday ahead of a virtual meeting with the Education Ministry and UGC.
Semester and admission fees are the two major sources of income for a private university.
However, these sources have been closed off for months due to the coronavirus crisis, making most of the private universities incapable of paying their employees.
Meanwhile, the government has given the directive to ensure the continuation of online classes and other academic activities on Thursday in a meeting with the Education Ministry, the APUB chairman remarked at a later occasion.
“This is why we want an incentive package like the other sectors, with or without conditions. Even though we did not mention the exact amount we gave verbal hints in a virtual meeting with the Education Minister Dipu Moni,” he added.
The minister told them her ministry will have a discussion about it and will also talk to the UGC regarding the matter, Kabir said.
The APUB chairman further stated that APUB has promised to repay the amount provided by the ministry within three to four years.
Either the government would provide the incentive package or the universities would become insolvent if they are to follow the Education Ministry’s direction to provide a monthly salary for over 25,000-30,000 employees while not taking money from the financially unstable students, he explained.
UGC Chairman Prof Kazi Shahidullah said they have already forwarded APUB’s letter to the ministry.
UGC recently sent a letter to both public and private universities inquiring about the number of universities taking online classes, the subjects of the classes, and the percentage of students joining the classes.
UGC member Prof Dil Afroza Begum said: “73 universities [57 Private and 16 Public] responded to the letter. Among them, the response of 20 universities was satisfactory. Seven of the public universities are taking online classes, while nine are not, but they have given feedback according to our letter. Around 50% students are attending the classes.”
She stated six decisions were taken in their last meeting, adding that the education minister directed the universities to ensure the participation of all students with the full support of the ministry and the UGC.
Dipu Moni also directed all universities to pay their staff and not to layoff teachers and other employees.