Thirty-eight out of the country’s 42 public universities do not allow student representation in their highest decision making body, thus blocking central students’ union polls on the campuses.
With the schedule of Dhaka University Central Students Union polls annoucned, student leaders of different organisations have demanded that universities which do not have student representation in policymaking immediately amend their rules.
University Grants Commission of Bangladesh officials have said that if DUCSU polls are held peacefully, they will call for necessary amendment to the university rules for holding students’ union elections at other universities.
Since long, even before the schedule of DUCSU elections was rolled out this month, student organisations have been demanding election to central students union in all public universities and government colleges.
According to 1973 acts of Dhaka University, Chittagong University, Rajshahi University and Jahangirnagar University, five students nominated by the universities’ central students unions would represent students at the respective senates.
Despite having no such provision, central students’ union polls at government colleges as well as at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and Bangladesh Agricultural University were held on a regular basis.
The last Engineering University Central Students’ Union polls at BUET and Bangladesh Agricultural University Central Students Union polls were held in 2001 and 1998 respectively.
But no student representation is there at the two premier public universities.
Established in 1980, Islamic University in Kushtia does not allow elected student representation in decision making.
Registrar SM Abdul Latif told New Age that the university administration felt the importance of elected student representation in highest level decision making.
‘The university authorities are thinking about holding student’s union election. First of all, an amendment to the university act is necessary,’ Latif said.
Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology registrar Professor Md Selim Hossain said the university’s student welfare council was analysing the possibility of holding student’s union elections. RUET was established in 2003.
Barisal University registrar Monirul Islam observed that grooming up future politicians was hampered in absence of student unionism in the universities.
He, however, said that the BU administration was yet to take any initiative to amend the university act as there was no demand from students or proposal from teachers for holding students’ union election at the university established in 2011.
Comilla University registrar Professor Md Abu Taher said an amendment to the university act was prerequisite to facilitate student unionism on the campus. CU was established in 2006.
Established in 1999 in Dinajpur, Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science and Technology University does not allow student politics on the campus like Khulna University which was established in 1987.
HSTU registrar Professor Shafiul Alam and KU registrar Professor Khan Golam Quddus said there was no scope for hold students’ union elections on their respective campuses.
Bangladesh Chhatra Union general secretary Zilani Shuvo slammed a UGC prescription following which the recently established universities did not keep any scope for elected student representation in decision making.
‘In absence of elected student representation, senate bodies of the universities make arbitrary decisions which sometimes go against democratic norms and interest of students,’ Zilani said.
Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal general secretary Md Akramul Hasan demands that all the university-level institutions facilitate students’ union polls on their respective campuses.
Akramul, however, mentioned that the holding of elections would be futile if it was intended only to empower the ruling student organisation.
He said, ‘JCD central leaders have discussed with local organisers at the universities about submission of their demands including amendment to the university act. They will proceed if the DUCSU polls are held in a free and fair manner.’
Bangladesh Chhatra League general secretary Golam Rabbani told New Age Dhaka University correspondent that BCL unit organisers in all public universities would soon submit memorandum to the vice-chancellors to start amendment to the act for holding students’ union polls immediately.
UGC chairman Professor Abdul Mannan does not see any problems in holding students’ union polls at universities where there is no provision for elected student representation in policymaking.
‘After successful completion of students’ union polls at universities having history of central students union activities, acts of the recently established universities can be amended at the shortest possible time,’ Mannan said.
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