• Wednesday, Apr 14, 2021
  • Last Update : 04:17 am

UGC finds evidence of graft at RU, nepotism by VC

Rajshahi University
File photo of Rajshahi University Dhaka Tribune

VC tweaked recruitment policy to appoint family members, among other irregularities

A University Grants Commission (UGC) inquiry has found evidence of various irregularities committed by the vice-chancellor and other senior officials of Rajshahi University (RU).

The inquiry found that RU VC Prof M Abdus Sobhan tweaked the recruitment policy of the university to appoint his daughter and son-in-law as teachers. A total of more than 30 under-qualified candidates were recruited as teachers under VC Abdus Sobhan’s administration.

The UGC probe report was submitted to the Ministry of Education on Wednesday, according to UGC member and head of the inquiry team Dil Afroza Begum. Copies of the report were also forwarded to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

Earlier in January, more than 60 teachers of RU wrote to the PMO, UGC, Education Ministry and ACC. In the letter, the teachers alleged the VC and Pro VC Choudhury M Zakaria were engaged in graft, nepotism and various other irregularities. The UGC opened the inquiry in August.

VC a no-show at UGC hearing

The UGC inquiry found evidence of 25 allegations against the VC and other senior officials, said Dil Afroza.

“Our report recommended action over the allegations, which were proven to be true. The authorities concerned will initiate measures,” she added.

According to sources familiar with the matter, the UGC report is 36 pages long and has 700 pages of related documents attached.

In September, Education Minister Dipu Moni had said necessary steps would be taken after the submission of the report and recommendations of the UGC. 

VC Sobhan was supposed to appear before the UGC for a hearing over the allegations on September 17. However, he did not show up. The VC later wrote to the UGC, questioning its authority to conduct an inquiry against him.

Also Read - 9 RU teachers file GD seeking security

The UGC probe committee observed in its report that the irregularities had tarnished the image of the Rajshahi University vice-chancellor’s office and also severely affected the quality of education and research at the university.

It said that such incidents at a university were “unacceptable.”

Sobhan, who became vice-chancellor of the university on February 26, 2009, completed his first tenure on February 25, 2013. He was again appointed for the post on May 6, 2017, with his second tenure scheduled to end on May 6, 2021.

Inquiry findings

The probe found a total of 34 teachers recruited during the VC’s administration, including the vice-chancellor's daughter Sanjana Sobhan and son-in-law ATM Shahed Parvez, who were previously ineligible to apply for the position.

VC Prof Sobhan revised the teacher recruitment policy after becoming vice-chancellor for a second term to facilitate their recruitment.

Sanjana Sobhan, a marketing graduate from Rajshahi University, was appointed in the tourism and hospitality management department, and Shahed Parvez was appointed in the Institute of Business Administration (IBA).

In addition, two of the three teachers appointed by the Law Department were not eligible to apply for the positions as per previous policy. One of them later married Pro-VC Zakaria's daughter.

Under the new recruitment policy, four teachers were appointed in the department of psychology in 2017. Three of them were not eligible to apply under the previous policy. Of the five people appointed to the Institute of Education and Research, four were ineligible as per previous policy.

One in four recruited in the department of electrical and electronic engineering (EEE) were under-qualified as per previous policy. The departments of international relations, tourism, physics, banking and insurance and applied mathematics also recruited teachers who were previously underqualified.

The recruitment rules were revised with the negative motivation of allowing the recruitment of less qualified candidates, said the UGC report, adding that most of the irregularities in the university took place because of the change in recruitment policies for teachers and other staff members.

According to people familiar with the investigation, the 25 irregularities that were proven include providing false information to the chancellor on voluntary retirement, appointing heads of different departments in violation of rules and several financial transactions.

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