'We will not give up until accountability, and transparency is ensured in those institutions'
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has initiated inquiries against the vice-chancellors of 14 public universities, and its officials for their alleged irregularities, corruption, sexual harassment, and other issues.
UGC Chairman Prof Dr Kazi Shahidullah told Dhaka Tribune that the commission has taken a hard-line stance, and zero-tolerance policy against those who continuously perpetuate a system of corruption at institutional, and personal levels.
"We will not give up until accountability, and transparency is ensured in those institutions," the chairman said, adding: "The VC have to fight against corruption as well as properly conduct academic activities, examinations, and publishing of results according to the UGC oriented calendar."
The universities are JahangirNagar University (JU), Jessore University of Science and Technology (JUST), Sylhet Agricultural University (SAU), Noakhali University of Science and Technology (NUST), Barisal University (BU), Rajshahi University (RU), National University (NU), Islamic University (IU), Shahjalal University of Science & Technology (SUST), Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science and Technology University (HSTU), Begum Rokeya University, Rangpur (BRUR), Gopalganj Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University (BSMRSTU), Islamic Arabic University, Boshila (IAU), Noakhali Science and Technology University, Begum Rokeya University, and Barishal University.
Of those, BSMRSTU VC Prof Dr Khondoker Md Nasiruddin resigned on September 30 after a five-member UGC probe committee found evidence of irregularities, sexual harassment, and corruption against him.
UGC member Prof Dil Afroza Begum said, the student and teacher politics being practiced in the country's universities are completely different from those in the rest of the world.
According to the sources at UGC, there are many allegations including corruption in the recruitment process, embezzlement of funds, nepotism, and sexual harassment against many public university VCs.
In this regard, the UGC chairman said: "When such allegations are leveled against the plenipotentiaries, it naturally hampers academic and administrative activities, and ultimately tarnish the image of the universities."
'VCs being appointed on political identity'
While talking to this correspondent, a UGC member, on condition of anonymity said: "Most probably the authority has priorities on the political identity, rather than academic and other records, when a VC gets appointed."
Recently, several teachers, students, and unnamed persons submitted plenty of complaints to the Education Ministry, UGC, and Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) against over 15 VCs of public universities.
Deputy Education Minister Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury Nowfel told Dhaka Tribune, "The ministry sent letters to the UGC to carry out a probe into the allegations."
After being appointed as the UGC chairman, Prof Dr Kazi Shahidullah has taken several steps to bring transparency amidst his commission, and the universities.
The UGC has no regulatory power, the chairman said, adding: "Only when we get directives from the ministry, we can play a role, as well as take necessary steps on various issues."
The UGC cannot interfere into the teacher's recruitment activities of the universities, said the chairman, adding: "The commission can only do its inquiry as all universities are regulated by their own structures. If we find discrepancies, we can only send recommendations to the ministry. Only the ministry itself can take action."
However, misusing power, and taking personal advantage by any VC is harmful to all, he added.
"We do receive many complaints, particularly in recent times. If an investigation is launched, submission of reports takes time due to lack of manpower at the commission," he said.
“If UGC is empowered, it can take strong actions to tackle any situation. Currently, we do not have any power beyond conducting inquiries. There is no way for us to monitor whether the recommendations sent by the commission to the ministry are implemented or not," the chairman said.
Sexual harassment, irregularities, and corruption
UGC sent a letter asking for an explanation to former VC of Sylhet Agricultural University (SAU) Prof Dr Golam Shai Alam on his alleged irregularities, and corruption.
Similarly, another letter was sent to Sher-e-Bangla Agriculture University VC Kamal Uddin Ahmed to explain how he appointed 19 teachers in different departments by flouting university rules.
An enquiry has been initiated against Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science and Technology University VC Prof M Abul Kashem for his alleged irregularities, and corruption. Besides, Ramzan Ali, an assistant professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at HSTU allegedly harassed a female student of the university in 2017, but no action was taken, even though the allegation was found to be true.
There are a number of allegations of irregularities in recruitment, promotion, and nepotism against Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University VC Prof Dr Md Alauddin, which are also being investigated.
An enquiry is being conducted against RU Professor Dr Ashit Kumar Roy over filling of a fake certificate during his appointment.
Currently, an enquiry has been initiated against two JU associate professors--Dr Muhammad Sayedur Rahman, and Rupali Akhter--for violating copyright.
A number of allegations including irregularities in recruitment, and promotion of teachers and employees and nepotism in providing jobs brought against former VC of Noakhali Science and Technology University (NSTU) Prof M Wahiduzzaman is also being investigated.
The former VC of Barisal University (BU) SM Imamul Haque used abusive words toward students during student demonstrations. Now, the university is being operated without any VC or register.
There are allegations against the former VC of Chittagong University Prof Dr Iftekhar Uddin for recruiting 142 third and fourth class employees violating the rules.
There were allegations of corruption in the recruitment process against the immediate past VC of Jessore University of Science and Technology Prof Dr Md Abdus Sattar.
Allegations of irregularities in the appointment process, nepotism and abuse of power have been brought against Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University VC Prof AHM Mustafizur Rahman.
A probe committee has been investigating allegations of sexual harassment, immoral activities, and corruption allegations brought against Prof Dr Mohammad Ahsan Ullah, the current VC of Islamic Arabic University in Dhaka.
There are also allegations of corruption in recruitment process against immediate past VC of Jessore University of Science and Technology Prof Dr Md Abdus Sattar.
Students of Begum Rokeya University in Rangpur demanded the resignation of VC Nazmul Ahsan Kalim Ullah because of his irregularities, negligence of duty, corruption, and abuse of power. His frequent absence from the office has broken the chain of command in the university.