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Dhaka Tribune

Promoting research to fostering innovation

Bangladeshi universities can emerge as centres of innovation, driving societal and economic development

Update : 28 May 2024, 09:34 AM

Bangladesh has advanced greatly in several areas like education, healthcare, and economic prosperity. But research has suffered in its growth, and especially at public institutions. The calibre of the research and innovation a country generates greatly influences its progress. Bangladesh has to develop a strong research culture inside its public universities if it is to continue growing and compete successfully on the global stage. 

Bangladeshi public universities have always given more importance to teaching than to research. It is imperative to remember the function of universities as centres of knowledge, even if teaching is necessary. Universities in Bangladesh now produce less research than those in other nearby nations. There is a dire need for quick action since several academic indices show that Bangladeshi scholars produce a very small proportion of research papers that are published in respectable foreign publications. 

Several reasons contribute to poor research output in Bangladesh's public universities. First, doing research activities costs a lot of money. Regretfully, Bangladeshi public universities frequently have to choose running costs above research funding. Because of this financial constraint, professors and students are unable to start large-scale research initiatives. 

Modern libraries, labs, and other research facilities are also essential for carrying out excellent research. Academics find it challenging to carry out experiments, get current resources, and work with colleagues abroad since many public institutions do not have the required infrastructure. Of course, the trend has changed in recent years as some of the universities are stressing importance on research to cope with the demands of modern times. 

Furthermore, the cumbersome bureaucratic processes at public institutions sometimes impede prompt access to money, machinery, and other necessary resources for research. This bureaucratic structure could prevent academics and students from actively engaging in research projects. The requirement of producing vouchers demotivates the faculties to apply for funds.  

Moreover, there are insufficient qualified researchers and mentors with the required experience to successfully develop the research abilities of future academics. Part of the reason for this difference is the little exposure Bangladeshi academics have to international research standards and techniques. 

Research frequently flourishes in partnerships between academic institutions and industrial sectors. However, there isn't much industry-university collaboration in Bangladesh, which means that there isn't much useful research that might promote creativity and tackle practical problems.

Now one may wonder why public universities take measures to support research. The expansion of the economy is mostly dependent on research and innovation. The GDP of the nation may be greatly increased by research since it can solve regional problems, develop cutting-edge technologies, and improve operational processes. Moreover, involvement in research improves the standard of teaching. Students who use it develop their critical thinking, problem-solving abilities, and in-depth knowledge of the disciplines. 

Furthermore, this procedure makes sure that faculty members are informed on the most recent developments in their areas, which might eventually result in better teaching. Bangladesh must produce cutting-edge and innovative research if it wants to compete globally. The university will not only improve its reputation internationally but also draw in foreign investments and partnerships. Current societal concerns including healthcare, agriculture, and environmental sustainability can be addressed through research. The quality of life for Bangladeshi citizens may be significantly enhanced by universities if they provide customized solutions that meet particular local demands.

Research frequently flourishes in partnerships between academic institutions and industrial sectors

Therefore, it takes a thorough and varied approach to create a research-oriented atmosphere in Bangladeshi public universities. Resources allocated to research and development (R&D) should be increased by the commercial and government sectors. Creating specialized research grants and funding could give educators and students the necessary financial assistance. It is also wise to actively promote public universities looking for outside cooperation and financing. Building cutting-edge labs, guaranteeing access to international journals and databases, and giving academics the tools they need to carry out their research are all part of improving the infrastructure of public institutions. Research hubs and centres of excellence can help to create an atmosphere that is favourable to excellent study. 

Effective optimization of efficiency and efficient streamlining of the research process need administrative improvements. Administrative obstacles can be removed so that researchers may focus more on their work and spend less time and energy obtaining research funds and resources. Targeting both teachers and students, professional development initiatives may greatly increase their research abilities. These courses have to include thorough instruction in research methods, the skill of writing grant bids, and the process of publishing academic papers in prestigious international journals. Furthermore, establishing mentorship programs in which internationally acclaimed researchers train and assist newcomers might help to create a supportive research environment. 

For practical research, strong partnerships between universities and industries can greatly increase the possibilities. Internships, industry-sponsored research programs, and cooperative research projects can all help to do this. Furthermore, these collaborations may guarantee that the study has concrete real-world applications and corresponds with industry needs. It is important to develop a culture that supports and rewards study. Awarding, promoting, and other kinds of recognition can help to acknowledge and inspire research accomplishments. 

Furthermore, university administrations must revise their promotional policies to include the publication of high-quality research as a prerequisite for promotion, as this requirement is currently absent. A research attitude may also be developed in students through thesis requirements and undergraduate research programs, which promote their active involvement in research activities. 

One cannot emphasize enough the need to support research in Bangladeshi public universities. Bangladesh can establish its public universities as centres of innovation and knowledge production by recognizing and resolving challenges and putting well-defined plans into action. Along with advancing social and economic conditions, this change would improve the nation's intellectual and scientific stature. To develop a positive research environment and open Bangladesh's future, cooperation among the government, academic institutions, industries, and foreign partners is essential. 

Dr Pranab Kumar Panday is a Professor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Rajshahi.

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