Keeping students home

We need to foster a high-quality tertiary education sector by developing local resources with global competence

Data by Bangladesh Bank shows that Bangladeshi students' study abroad payments have risen by 128.65% in the last six years, with the figure reaching $343.9 million till April in the current fiscal year. 


A significant portion of Bangladesh students are moving abroad to attain foreign degrees. In the current times, parents and students are more inclined towards going for international standard education. 


High-quality foreign degrees are known for enhancing education quality through innovative methods, resulting in better academic performance, better opportunities, and improved satisfaction in life. 


Most importantly, foreign education provides exactly what higher education institutions in Bangladesh are unable to give.  

 

According to the central bank data, study abroad payments have gradually increased over the years -- $150.4m in FY17, $170.7m in FY18, $196.1m in FY19, $218m in FY20, and $243.1m in FY21. 


Therefore, it is very clear that students are increasingly searching for ways to move abroad for higher education due to a deep underlying lack of quality in Bangladesh's higher education sector. 


Although Bangladesh's higher education sector has made admirable progress over the years, the country's tertiary education sector requires more improvement. 


Particularly in the higher education scenario, most institutions lack a collaborative research culture that promotes innovation and competitiveness. These higher education institutes are more focused on job preparation than skill development. 

 

While studying abroad is very much standard, if the students do not come back and contribute to the country's collective national development as skilled individuals, the economy can be heavily impacted. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, at least 44,338 Bangladeshi students were abroad in 2021, up from 24,112 in 2015. 


So, what exactly is causing so many students to leave their country of origin and study in foreign lands? 

 

Many academics and educators say that numerous meritorious students leave and do not come back to Bangladesh due to a lack of good quality education and good job prospects. 


This is because most universities in Bangladesh follow a traditional teaching and learning approach. 


Also known as the “teacher-centred” approach, this format of learning gives full control of the classroom and its activities to the teacher, resulting in students becoming bored and uninterested. 


Hence, students are unable to express themselves, ask questions, and direct their own learning.         

 

For maximum student retention, effective solutions to these micro-level problems involving learning factors are very much needed. 


Maximum student engagement can be facilitated through interactive learning methods where both students and teachers get an equal role to play in class. 


Higher education institutions should also use active and curiosity-inducing learning as a basis for developing core concepts, hard and soft skills, and other attributes. 


Students can no longer be just passive recipients of information transmitted from the teachers. They need both theoretical and practical knowledge that is fun, engaging, and personalized. 


These factors underpin academic access and student retention in the long term.       

 

A good, high-quality education is proportional to results. The results are a culmination of the demonstration of learning. For example, the result of learning is visible and observable with three particular factors -- knowledge, competence, and practical use of what has been learned. 


Additionally, education institutes in the country should embrace emerging technologies, key trends, and other innovative practices and curate a comprehensive education module. 


To shape a sustainable future of learning, the country needs to keep pace with the ever-evolving educational patterns. After all, increasing graduation rates and levels of educational attainment will accomplish little if students do not learn something of long-lasting value. 


As a sustainable solution to this issue, recently, foreign university study centres have been established in the country with a view of providing quality education. Universal College Bangladesh (UCB), the first ministry of education-approved international education provider, is a great example of such an institution. Under the STS group, UCB has recently partnered with the University of London to launch the “UoL LSE EMFSS Program.” This way, students can avail of exclusive foreign education while staying here in the  country. 

 

By restructuring the education system and introducing similar innovative initiatives, the country should be able to retain its local talents. This will, in turn, help the nation towards the betterment of the economy. 


We must continue with the vision of prepping the nation's resources as future-ready individuals. We can do this by equipping them with global standard skills and saving valuable foreign exchange by offering everything within the country, both good quality education and a secured job sector. 

Overcoming this brain drain situation and facilitating students with the best quality of education in their home country will allow them to remain in Bangladesh while adding positive value to the country's economy. 


Thus, ensuring quality education can reduce the outflow of money from the national economy and also develop globally competent local resources that can contribute significantly to economic growth. 


Besides, incorporating international education in Bangladesh can improve the overall quality of education. This will, in turn, help create a highly educated and skilled workforce in the country, enhancing the quality of education in a healthy and sustainable manner.  

 

It goes without saying that modern society depends largely on the standard, quality, and nature of higher education. There lies huge potential in higher education that will promote prosperity in developing nations. 


Bangladeshi universities have come a long way, but there is still so much more to do to unlock the potential at all levels while creating highly trained individuals to contribute to national development. 


To mitigate the growing concern surrounding learning outcomes, particularly with higher education, higher education institutions need to figure out a fool-proof way to foster local talents for the betterment of the economy. Creating opportunities for globally-recognized educational institutes can be a good way forward in this regard. 

 

Dr Sandeep Ananthanarayanan is Chief Executive Officer, Higher Education, STS Group.