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In conversation with Professor Shibli Rubayat Ul Islam

  • Published at 03:55 pm November 9th, 2016
  • Last updated at 06:56 pm November 9th, 2016
In conversation with Professor Shibli Rubayat Ul Islam
FBS, University of Dhaka organised an International Conference on Business and Economics on October 25-26, 2016. The theme of the conference was “Reinventing Business for the 21st Century.” The objective of the conference was to bring together academics and professionals to a common forum for developing strategies to meet the challenges of global business in the years to come. The event itself facilitated the sharing of valuable experiences, exchange of fresh ideas, fostering of innovation and establishment of research relations amongst the participating individuals and institutions. After the conference, Professor Shibli Rubayat Ul Islam, Dean and Professor of FBS, University of Dhaka, spoke on how the conference integrated with his vision to develop university academics in Bangladesh, and how much further we all must leap. Perspective: After the independence of Bangladesh, the quality of education at local universities is perceived to be consistently deteriorating. Most universities lack appropriate incentive to carry out research, and even if they do, they barely receive the recognition and value they deserve. That culture of appreciating the value of research has not fundamentally developed in Bangladesh as of yet, a grave problem that this conference aimed to tackle. May I ask, what is you your opinion on the matter? First of all, unlike primary and secondary education which is largely “textbook-based”, university education in the modern world concentrates more on research and innovation. However, contrary to the global practice, the same ‘textbook’ education system prevails in most of Bangladesh as it always did; the trend has not changed much over the years. That, to be honest, is not university education. By and large, in Bangladesh, it involves no application of creativity, relies on memorisation and pays no heed to how such knowledge may be applicable to the students’ career and livelihood. Hence, we felt it was high time we took steps to address this alarming scenario. FBS has operated self-sufficiently over the last decade without relying on any government subsidy. We have been doing our research, observing how conferences are being carried out abroad by leading educational institutions and wish to implement the same in Dhaka. We asked ourselves: Why can’t we? We have the most meritorious students, all of whom are handpicked, and from them only the best of the lot are given the opportunity to teach. They are what is considered to be the crème de la crème of the society. If we don’t give these people the opportunity to carry out their own research, if we are unable to utilise their talents for the development of our society, then it would be a great failure for us as a nation. We took the leap of faith and organised the country’s first international conference of business and economics. The conference was a success, judging by both local and international standards. The incentives we provided motivated researchers across the country and beyond to take part. Most importantly, the conference gave them an idea of where our university education is headed to, their roles in it and where they currently stand. We believe that through international collaborations and networking both in the immediate short-run and the long-run, we can have a great impact on researchers; their recognition and subsequently, value of their work. During your tenure of two consecutive terms, FBS has seen numerous structural improvements in terms of campus enhancement, Faculty infrastructure development and academic excellence. With respect to the last point, how do you wish to take the field of academics a step further? This Faculty is very rich in academics, but the talent it has got to offer is still to spread its wings and fly. The students of the Faculty, as I stated before, are extremely qualified and the university itself has a wealth of distinct and rare characteristics. The issues arise with financial constraints. Simply put, we need funds to take this university forward. Even now, we are trying to accumulate resources to operate at par with international educational institutions. We are proud to be considered as one of the best universities in the world, not through the recommendations of paid international ranking platforms, rather our merit. We are ranked at the apex by people, academicians and researchers. Those who have seen us, met us and visited us know what we are, how we operate and how much further we have come over the years in terms of global standards. We no longer need to provide statements showing our AACSB ranks, the world knows us quite well already. When the foreign universities ask about our AACSB rankings and all, my reply is, ‘Why do you need AACSB rankings? You need the rankings because ranks are usually needed to attract students. Students enroll and pay tuition fees, which brings in revenue and eventually, higher rankings. At this faculty, there are no tuition fees! We don’t need that here, do we?” What is your vision of FBS for the foreseeable future? In a single sentence, it is my wish to go global with FBS and see the Faculty of Business Studies being recognised as a prodigious educational institution, not only as part of the University of Dhaka, but as one of the most formidable business schools in the world.