All universities, private, public and national, should start operating online classes
Education Minister Dipu Moni has urged all universities to continue academic activities online, including exams and admissions, in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic.
The education minister made the request via video conference at a meeting yesterday with the University Grants Commission (UGC) and vice chancellors of public and private universities.
At this virtual meeting, the Education Ministry and the UGC reached six decisions to ensure that universities could properly run their academic activities online, including exams and admissions.
However, Dipu Moni also directed that the participation of all students online be ensured with the full support of the ministry and UGC.
The decisions were accepted by the VCs of public, private and national universities without any reservations.
The decisions are as follows:
All universities, including NU, must take initiatives to ensure and provide all facilities required for online education, so that students remain busy with academic activities.
Private universities can conduct exams and admissions online and complete the semester. The UGC will provide guidelines in this matter, which will be issued next week.
Students who fail to participate in classes online and thus fail to attempt the final exam this semester can do so in the next one. The university authorities must provide all support necessary to help such students to complete their academic life.
Public universities should take decisions according to their academic council rules and regulations so that effective steps are taken to reduce session jams.
Private universities can continue enrolling students via online admission tests for the upcoming academic session. However, the UGC will provide a certain timeframe for admission and class routine for the new semester.
Lastly, university authorities cannot create pressure or cancel studentship if students fail to pay tuition fees, especially if they are unable to pay. Rather, they must take steps and come to their aid by waiving fees.
Dipu Moni also directed all universities to provide salaries and to ensure that teachers and employees were not fired.
'Financial support packages needed'
APUB President Sheikh Kabir demanded special financial support packages like those provided to other sectors.
“They don’t have money to run the university and pay employees. Only a few universities have Tk8 to Tk10 lakh whereas the rest of the universities do not have money,” Kabir said, referring to the private universities.
Dipu Moni, in response, said another meeting would be held to discuss this matter.
At the meeting, UGC Chairman Prof Kazi Shahidullah said if any university fired its employees the UGC, being a regulatory body, would take serious action. The UGC will take some decisions regarding this matter the following week.
Deputy Minister for Education Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury Nowfel said halting academic activities was not an option. “One needs to conduct academic activities with what one has.”
UGC member Prof Dil Afroza Begum focused on the matter of newly established universities.
“New universities can also admit students via online admissions and can run academic sessions so that they do not get left behind,” she said.
Dhaka University VC Akhtaruzzaman said: “We [DU] have already formed a committee which is working on the current situation. We will take all decisions based on its recommendations.”
APUB President Sheikh Kabir Hossain said that the education minister had met at the meeting all demands placed by private universities.
Echoing Kabir, North South University VC Atiqul Islam said: “The education ministry mentioned what we [private universities] have been stressing so far. But we need to run on the basis of equality.”
East West University VC Prof MM Shahidul Hassan said that EWU had started online classes late but students had nevertheless shown a tremendous response. “They want to appear at exams and move on to the next semester. So the directives at this meeting surely help.”
National University VC Harun-or-Rashid said most of the institutions under NU did not have digital facilities to run online classes. “We will issue directives to institutions which have digital facilities to conduct activities online.”
UGC Secretary Prof Ferdous Zaman said: “The education minister is scheduled to meet again next Tuesday with the UGC and the universities where the UGC will provide a model based on some decisions taken today [yesterday].”