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Private universities need freedom to operate

  • Published at 12:01 am October 19th, 2019
classroom tables wooden

Nothing good comes of too much meddling from above

Certainly, a governing body like the University Grants Commission has its role to play in monitoring the activities of universities, both public and private, which includes keeping an eye out for irregularities.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is right to direct the UGC chairman to stick to the rules and not go beyond the law in the commission’s activities.

It must be added that the last thing our education sector needs right now is an overzealous UGC, particularly when it comes to the operations of private universities, who need their freedom to operate without meddling that may hinder their quality.

The sorry state of most of our public universities shows that nothing good comes of too much meddling from above, and for many years now, private universities have been trying to rectify the problems pervasive in those universities, which include session jams, toxic student politics, and inadequate infrastructure.

The solution, then, is to allow private universities maximum freedom in most matters; matters of finance, teacher recruitment, curricula, and setting fees should be the domain of the private institutions according to their own internal logic, and not enforced externally.

There is a long way to go before Bangladesh can have universities boasting places on prestigious global lists, but if anything, it is the private universities which are on track. 

Nothing will be solved by introducing policies into the private sphere that already have a track record of failure in the public sector, and there are times when the best thing for the UGC to do vis-à-vis private universities is to take a step back.