According to media reports, public universities charge over 40 times the regular fees from students enrolled in the evening courses
Experts and students are of the opinion that evening courses at public universities are offered for commercial reasons rather than for enhancing the quality of education.
They have said those involved in the process – especially teachers – prefer money to fulfilling professional responsibilities. Professionalism demands that they provide the best in terms of academic service at the universities, they noted.
According to media reports, public universities charge over 40 times the regular fees from students enrolled in the evening courses.
Taking note of the issue, academics, researchers and students questioned why universities had fixed such exorbitant fees for the courses taught despite using the same infrastructure, teachers, and staff as were meant for regular students.
In addition, the university teachers involved, aiming to make a quick income, focus less on research, something very crucial at the tertiary level of education.
Instead, they engage themselves in the evening courses.
Terming the practice highly unethical, experts and students compared the courses to “money-making” ventures, with many dubbing them as “private tuitions.”
They suggested that respective universities run the courses on their own, rather than allowing the departments or institutes to offer programs independently.
Siddiqur Rahman, former director at the Education and Research Institute of Dhaka University, agreed that evening courses were helpful for professionals who could not avail post-graduate degrees and needed to enrich their career.
However, he sounded the caveat that commercializing the programs with fewer credits and fewer teaching hours than required brought the quality of education into question.
“The teachers are prioritizing personal earnings rather than a dissemination of upgraded lessons or skill enhancement,” he said, adding that the money-making mindset of the teachers was to blame for the situation.
Echoing his views, DU Professor Emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury said: “Running such courses in public universities, using public property, is neither ethical nor logical.”
If a university authority wants to offer such courses, it should be controlled by the university management and not by the departments, he said.
The fees, he opined, for both regular and evening courses have to be the same, in order to benefit the students.
A recent DU graduate, requesting anonymity, said teachers in the evening courses were negligent about their teaching methods while taking regular courses.
“They do not even update themselves or bring anything new to the table while conducting a class. As a result, we are obtaining partial knowledge,” he said.
Kamal Hossain, director of the Public University Management Department at University Grant Commission (UGC) said: "The evening courses are being conducted without taking the approval of the commission. Running the courses not only undermines the character of a public university but also tarnishes its image."
The UGC on Wednesday while ordering the closure of such courses also instructed the authorities of public universities to take its prior approval before opening a new faculty, department, institute and position and asked the public universities to put an end to evening courses.
Contacted by Dhaka Tribune, DU Vice Chancellor Professor Akhtaruzzaman said that having received instructions from President Abdul Hamid in 2018 the university had already begun working on the issue.
“We will act soon after receiving a report from a committee that was formed in this regard last year,” the professor said. He, however, added that it might take some time for the instructions to be implemented.
“Some advanced level professional courses might continue following the recommendations from the committee,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jagannath University Registrar Ohiduzzaman, on behalf of the VC, has through an emergency notice ordered the departments running evening courses not to enroll any more students.
The authorities of Comilla University have also issued a press release stating that they would halt all five evening courses now being run at the university.