Most of the university students in Bangladesh struggle while taking lessons at tertiary level for their poor foundation in English and mathematics, United International University vice chancellor professor Chowdhury Mofizur Rahman observed.
For their poor knowledge in the basic courses, students could not be in tune with advanced courses taught at the universities, leaving an adverse impact on tertiary level education in the country, Mofizur said in an interview with New Age on Tuesday.
‘Many of them cannot even understand the meaning of textbooks written in English. So, we need to arrange special foundation courses for the students to prepare them for the courses we offer on engineering, business and social science at our university. Other universities are also facing similar problems,’ he said.
The parents, on the other hand, need to pay extra fees for foundation courses, he said. ‘So both the parents and the university authorities suffer for the faulty education system prevailing in the country at primary and secondary levels.’
The schools were focused more on good results at the public examinations rather than developing competencies of the pupils in language and mathematics, which was foundational to every student before he or she pursued higher education, he said.
The government, on the other hand, expressed satisfaction at the record number of pass rate and the good marks obtained, Mofiz said.
‘Most of these students with outstanding results cannot obtain pass marks at the admission tests at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and Dhaka University. And private universities cannot afford to introduce admission test which BUET or Dhaka University had set as standard since that would lead to getting no student,’ said Mofiz, a former faculty of computer science and engineering department of BUET.
He said it was a challenging task to maintain an international standard with such weak students and very limited resources, especially, quality faculties appears to be in short supply in both public and private universities in the country.
Mofiz finds no logic of giving permission to over a hundred private universities and over 50 public universities in the country since the number of university teachers was limited.
Many newly established public universities were running engineering departments without having any professor to teach the subject. And private university required hiring faculties in exchange of mammoth salaries, he said.
Since faculties were expensive and maintenance cost was very high, private university education appears costly, he said.
‘Actually a few number of private universities that are providing standard education in Bangladesh are as expensive as universities in Malaysia,’ he said.
He claimed that some private universities in the country obtained their position in the US-based QS World University Rankings 2019 by evaluating the curriculum, faculties, library and laboratory facilities and researches.
‘Among the Asian Universities, our positing was between 301 and 350. BRAC University and North South University also had a similar ranking while Daffodil International University is ranked below 400. Dhaka University’s position is at 127 while BUET’s at 175,’ Mofiz said.
This success, he said, motivated United International University management to allocate Tk 15 crore exclusively for research works in the next five years.
Found in 2003, he said, UIU showed remarkable achievements in the past 16 years operating from its permanent campus on the capital’s Madani Road.
At present the university offers six undergraduate and six post-graduate programmes in engineering, business and social science.
Demands in the job market were driving the private universities to open courses in engineering and business, he said.
‘Some private universities like United International University, BRAC University and North South University are also focused on research works and are providing courses for sound development of their students,’ he said.
‘We also encourage co-curricular activities. Almost every day programmes are organised on the campus. We have 12 clubs and 15 forums of students for sports, debate and cultural activities,’ he claimed.
He added that the university purchased a huge number journals and assist students in publishing their papers in the internationally renowned journals. ‘The faculties who take leave for PhD programmes also get incentives,’ he said.
‘Centre for energy research of the university has become one of the leading centres of its kind and certification institutions of Solar Home System, he said, adding that the school of business and economics in June received unconditional recognition from the US accreditation council for business school and programmes for 10 years,’ he added.
But, he said, the higher education in the country would not improve unless the government increased budgetary allocation in the education sector.
‘At least 4 per cent of the national budget should be allocated to education. And the main focus should be developing a discrimination-free quality primary and secondary education system in the country,’ he said.
Investment in education was not only a commitment of the state to its citizen but also the best investment for a nation having 60 per cent youth population, he said.
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