Counselling services were recently introduced to private university students, with career counselling being at the heart of the program. Along with career support, private educational institutions are making efforts to establish a counselling system that helps address and handle student's psychological and personal issues, so that they are healthy not only physically but also emotionally, allowing them to focus more on their academic performances.
A report recently published on Dhaka Tribune highlights the findings of a research conducted by the Centre for Enterprise and Society (CES). The findings conclude that there in five undergraduate students are under extreme stress. All the more reason for us to explore and delve into student counselling – an idea that is still somewhat new to us.
Ferdowsi Ara, senior student counsellor, University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB), says that her department, Student Affairs Office, provides psychological counselling to help ease students' personal difficulties. They maintain utmost confidentiality when handling these issues. “A lot of students come in everyday. They seek counselling to deal with personal problems. Sometimes they need anger management. Sometimes, there's a family problem and many a times, there are relationship issues.”
The department has also handled cases where students needed support to overcome drug addiction. “We have professional counsellors and are always here for them whenever they need us.” Ferdowsi says that depending on the nature of the problem, they usually schedule seven to eight counselling sessions to assist a student to overcome whatever s/he may be dealing with.
ULAB also has a Career Counselling department that helps students choose their career paths and find jobs.
Shahnaz Islam, senior job counsellor, Career Placement Center (CPC), North South University tells us that her department provides students with professional counselling and support. CPC focuses on grooming the students, editing and writing their resumes, and conducting one-one-one interviews and sessions to prepare them for the corporate world, before and after they graduate.
“We also help students find internships at the end of their undergraduate programs. We often send out their CVs to multinational companies, banks, and other establishments—usually the kind of organisations the particular student is interested in exploring and pursuing a career after graduation.”
Mahmud, 24, a student of NSU, tells us that he has submitted his resume to NSU's CPC quite a while back but is yet to get a response from them regarding his internship program. “With a CGPA of 2.8 on a scale of 4.0, I hear it's difficult to get a good internship. But I had to do two jobs to pay for my tuition, which is why I couldn't manage to do better academically. I may not look good on my resume, but I have a lot of experience and would like to get an internship in a good multinational company,” he says.
Shahnaz Islam explains that sometimes there's a prerequisite for the applicants to have a CGPA of 3.2 and above. “Many multinational and telecommunication companies want interns or fresh graduates with a CGPA of 3.2 or above, which is why we have to screen applicants before forwarding their resumes to a company. We want all our students to find an internship or a job in a reputable organisation, but we have to meet the requirements set by these companies as well, and the competition is tough.”
The university also has a number of clinical therapists working in their Student Counselling department that provides personal counselling.
Shanzida Shahabuddin, executive, Career Services, from Office of Career Services and Alumni Relations (OCSAR), BRAC tells us that besides assisting students with getting jobs or internships, they also offer guidance in selecting their majoring subjects. “It's important for each student to know what his or her options are once they have graduated from university with a certain major.”
OCSAR helps groom students, train them to develop professional skills, write their CVs, etc.
Counselling for teachers
Ferdowsi Ara from ULAB says: “We don't provide counselling for teachers. However, if they have any complaints, our HR is there to accommodate their needs.”
Both NSU and BRAC have training programs for the teachers but counselling is not offered to them as of yet. The training that teachers go through is meant to help them with professional growth and development.
Shanzida Shahabuddin explains how more students can benefit from connecting with their career counsellors. “The students that turn to us for support once soon become regulars. They have complete faith in us and can count on us for any help that they may need.” But there are students who have never visited the department because they feel it won't be of much help. “Whereas in reality, we have made so much progress and been assisting students with finding jobs and internships. We need to find a way to spread awareness among students that these services can actually help them--not just in BRAC, but in almost any other university that is sincere and has the best interest of their students at heart,” she says.