The University Grants Commission will give maximum Tk 15,000 to a student in loan to buy a device to attend online classes that have been in operation since July following the suspension of face-to-face classes after COVID19 outbreak.
The commission on Thursday requested the education ministry to allocate a fund of Tk 62 crore for lending to 41,501 students of 39 public universities for buying the devices.
Total 3,04,414 students study at these 39 universities, UGC officials said.
‘We proposed for an interestfree loan to students, who will have to refund it before the completion of their academic life,’ UGC director Md Kamal Hossain told New Age on Saturday.
The ministry will decide whether the loan will be interest-free, he added.
On August 6, UGC asked 39 out of 46 public universities to send lists of students, who cannot afford smartphones and need financial support to buy a phone, to the commission by August 25 for ensuring access of all students to online classes.
Dhaka University, the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and a few more universities, however, sent the lists after the deadlines, UGC officials said.
They said that National University, Bangladesh Open University, Islamic Arabic University and four medical universities were not considered for the offer as they follow different systems.
The Dhaka University list contains the highest number of 8,556 students which is 19.89 per cent of its total students.
Rajshahi University sent a list of 4,744 students, Chittagong University sent a list of 3,750 students, Jagannath University sent a list of 3,654 students, Jahangirnagar University sent a list of 2,301 and BUET sent a list of 1,439 students.
New universities like Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Aviation and Aerospace University, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Digital University, Bangamata Sheikh Fojilatunnesa Mujib Science and Technology University and Sheikh Hasina University sent lists with less than 100 students, UGC officials said.
University teachers said that they faced multiple problems while making the lists of insolvent students.
They have to identify student who became insolvent during the COVID-19 outbreak, they cannot contact the needy students properly as they are out of campuses, and politicallyconnected students were lobbying for smartphones though they do not deserve the facility.
Besides devices, Jagannath University vicechancellor Mizanur Rahma said that poor internet connectivity was a big challenge to continue online classes.
Deputy education minister Mohibul Hassan Choudhury said that the ministry would decide after evaluating the lists sent by the UGC.
‘We will allocate the fund only if we find it logical,’ he said.
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