The number of students heading for universities abroad has doubled in one decade allegedly for low quality higher education in the country as well as limited employment opportunities.
Educationists have also observed that Bangladesh is also losing foreign currency because of increased brain drain.
The latest data from UNESCO shows that 33,000 Bangladeshis enrolled at higher education level at universities abroad in 2016, over a double from 15,700 in 2007.
Bangladeshi student’s top five priority destinations are Malaysia, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia and Germany.
‘Bangladesh education system cannot meet the demand that is why students prefer to go abroad,’ University Grants Commission chairman Professor Abdul Mannan says.
Not getting expected standard of education may
be another reason for this brain drain, he thinks.
As per UNESCO, 33,139 Bangladeshis enrolled at higher education level at universities abroad in 2016, an increase from 22,725 in 2011 and the figure was 15,700 in 2007.
Of these students, Malaysia received about 20 per cent in 2016, the USA 16 per cent, the UK 14 per cent, Australia 13 per cent and Germany 6 per cent.
‘Higher education in the country is expanding fast but standard of tertiary education has not improved, so many are going abroad for higher education,’ former UGC chairman Professor AK Azad Chowdhury said.
Many guardians and students losing trust in education system was another reason behind the problem, he said.
Students are also worried about their professional prospects, so they are going abroad, AK Azad Chowdhury finds.
‘Employment scope is still a concern for them and they consider that a foreign certificate can ensure his or her job at home and abroad,’ he said.
‘Higher education’s co-relation with employment opportunities in Bangladesh is weak; it is another reason for students going abroad,’ says another former UGC chairman Professor Nazrul Islam.
AK Azad Chowdhury and Nazrul Islam both said that as the Bangladesh economy was getting stronger, many now could afford sending their children abroad.
They both say that many of these Bangladeshi students going abroad are from the affluent class and English medium background having language advantages over others.
The students often prefer the Malaysian universities as education cost there is comparatively cheap while many Malaysian universities have international collaboration, joint programme with the UK, the US and others countries.
Educationists observe that brain drain is longstanding problem for Bangladesh as the country is deprived as majority of these students do not return after completing their study or training and start living in the foreign countries.
Every year a fresh batch of students graduate from colleges after passing Higher Secondary Certificate or equivalent examinations. They crowd embassies for going abroad to ensue higher studies.
Nazrul Islam said that Bangladeshi students going abroad was decades-old phenomenon. ‘In the past, we saw thousands of students go to India for higher education but their number decreased after introduction of private universities.’
Bangladesh approved first private university in 1992 to hold back students from going abroad as well as expand higher education. Now there are a total of 95 such universities. Half of these private universities got approval after 2007.
Besides, during last one decade 15 more public universities were set up to cater to the demand for higher education.
Academics said quality of education of many of the new public universities and almost all private universities was questionable so students and their parents were losing their trust in them.
‘It is true that standard of education at many private universities is still a matter of concern,’ Mannan admitted.
‘We are trying to improve standard of education at all universities,’ he said.
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