The president, as the chancellor of all universities in Bangladesh, generally presides over most convocations but can choose not to attend
Over 6,000 students of Rajshahi University set to graduate as part of the upcoming 10th convocation have vehemently refused to accept Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid as the chief guest.
The convocation has been delayed several times already. President Abdul Hamid refused to attend the ceremony on January 1, and proffered the task of presiding to Nahid.
According to Rajshahi University Act 1973, Article 1 of Section 10, the president will preside over the convocation ceremonies as the chancellor and in his absence, the vice chancellor will preside. But the president’s refusal to attend the convocation and instead issue Nahid has infuriated the students.
A RU teacher took to Facebook to air his grievance: “Convocation without the chancellor is like Bharat ruling the kingdom with Rama’s sandals. He has time for every private university but not for the second-largest public university? The chancellor ought to be asked when he can make time. It is already late and the graduates can surely wait for a while longer.”
One of the graduating students said: “The administration cares little about the convocation now that the chancellor is not attending. The 2016 convocation also had Nahid scheduled instead of the president. After all the time has passed, not a thing has changed!”
A student who registered for the convocation was a lot more forthcoming in his derision at the turn of events.
He said: “If I knew my certificate would come from Nahid’s hands, I would have a better place to spend my money.”
Allegations of excessive fees
The first round of registration took place from November 3-30 in 2016. It was extended to December 10 afterwards and included PhDs, MPhils, post-graduates, MBBS, BDS, and DVM students, who all had to pay Tk3,570. The students called the fee exorbitant, which the university authority refuted by saying was the same rate for the previous convocation. A university spokesperson said: “We are even giving away the gowns!”
On November 23, 2016, the graduating students submitted a memorandum to the pro-vc demanding the convocation fee be lowered and quality guests be invited to the convocation.
After the registration, the date of convocation was announced as January 24, 2017. Prof Mizanuddin and Prof Chowdhury Sarwar Jahan were serving as the vice chancellor and pro-vice chancellor respectively. The president’s scheduling problem and the students’ rejection of Nahid as chief guest threw a wrench into the plans, delaying the convocation by a year. In May 2017, Prof Abdus Sobhan was appointed as the new vice chancellor for RU, who began preparing for the convocation anew and extended the registration period to January 31, 2018.
On February 15, a group of 10-15 graduate students submitted a memorandum of five demands including ensuring the president’s attendance to the vice chancellor, who refused to accept it.
Two of the students who prepared the memorandum lamented: “It is tragic that we will not be getting our certificates from the chancellor and president even after studying at one of the best universities in the land.”