• Tuesday, Jan 28, 2020
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Defying all logic

  • Published at 11:55 pm November 24th, 2019

We hope the UGC realizes that this policy is an unambiguous step in the wrong direction

This is how a nation’s progress comes to a halt.

The recent UGC directive to put a hard cap on student intake at private universities directly contravenes the right to education enshrined in our constitution and threatens to derail the progress made in higher education thanks to the investment and toil of many entrepreneurs and educators alike.

Considering the fact that the idea behind private universities was to fill in the gaps left by our public universities and democratize higher education for the masses, a hard limit on the intake of students is counter-productive at best and a cruel and unnecessary constraint on the constitutional rights of the youth at worst.

The policy simply makes no sense.

All it accomplishes is to deny eligible students the opportunity to study in universities and programs of their choice even when they may have both the academic qualification and financial means.  

We should be encouraging young men and women who are willing to work hard and sacrifice in order to receive higher education that will help train them to contribute better to society, instead of putting artificial barriers in their way.

The only possible result of such an ill-advised policy is that thousands of deserving young men and women will be denied their right to a higher education. 

In addition, to limit admissions in well-established universities that have built up the capacity over years to admit hundreds per term lays to waste precious resources in a resource-strapped country.

More galling, if enforced, it would surely leave hundreds of professors and teachers without a job. 

How a body entrusted with supporting higher education can promulgate any order with such ramifications defies all comprehension.

One explanation for such callous and ill-advised policy-making may lie in the fact that this order was formulated with no consultation of any private universities, or their apex body, the Association of Private Universities Bangladesh. 

Nor would this be the first time the UGC has shown such high-handedness when it comes to private universities, it should be noted.

To pass major decisions without due consultation of stakeholders is inconsistent with best practices worldwide.

The government, to its credit, has made great strides conducting its business in a consultative and deliberative manner, to the benefit of all. The UGC would be well advised to follow suit.

We hope the UGC realizes that this policy is an unambiguous step in the wrong direction when it comes to advancing higher education -- a key factor in realizing the prime minister's Vision 2041 for Bangladesh and for a knowledge-based economy.