The university graduates struggle in the job market competing with the foreigners as most of the education institutions in the country lag behind in providing skill-oriented education in compliance with the market demands, North South University vice-chancellor Professor Atique Islam said.
In most cases, the institutions, beginning from the schools, do not pay much attention to developing knowledge, competency, and technical knowhow, professional and communicational skills of the pupils for which they lag behind in performances in professional careers, Atique observes.
‘This is one of the many reasons why foreigners are dominating the job markets in the private and multi-national sectors in Bangladesh,’ Atique said.
‘There are of course some other reasons behind employment of so many foreigners in private job markets in the country. But, attention must be paid to where skills are necessary at the grooming stage for developing their communication and presentation skills,’ he added.
The education system in general in Bangladesh is academic result-oriented and the students are assessed mainly based on marks or grades they achieve in the examinations, Atique continues, adding that ‘the bookish knowledge hardly gives benefits in professional lives where they need to meet various customers and real-life challenges.’
‘It happens because they get very little chances to be self-dependent in society where at homes, at schools and beyond parents, guardians and teachers dominate everything in the lives of the children. Even while selecting jobs and even life-partners, they are dependent on guardians. How then will they be able to acquire the ability to make decisions or to bargain? It has serious impact on their professional lives,’ he said.
From his vast experiences in teaching and doing administrative works at different local and foreign universities like Dhaka University and Australian Edith Cowan University, Professor Atique Islam said that children in foreign countries learn to be self-dependent.
‘In Australia, I found that parents don’t control life of their children. Whether it is good or bad is another debate, but it is true that children develop as self-dependent and skilled beings having real-life experiences,’ Atique explained.
The children learn in happy ambience without much academic pressure as the teachers at the institutions apply all the contemporary teaching methods in compliance with the set targets for developing skills of the pupils as per the demands, Atique says.
‘In contrast, teachers at schools across Bangladesh are still following the old teaching methods of dictating pupils without realising their demands or generating urge for knowledge in them. It’s challenging for universities to make such students competent for current job markets,’ he said.
Still, Atique claims, that North South University, which began its journey in 1992 with just 124 students on a rented campus, achieved some remarkable successes in the local and global perspectives.
‘We are producing “ethical professionals” and leaders in the local market and our students are doing well in job markets abroad as we provide them practical competency-based education,’ he said adding that university had 25,000 students some of whom were foreigners.
The university, he claimed, secured a position among the top 500 universities in the world in the latest QS Graduate Employability Ranking along with Dhaka University.
‘We also secured top positions in several other local and global rankings, so we are happy. But, we are not satisfied as our target is to secure a position at the prestigious Times Higher Education World University Rankings,’ Atique pointed out.
For achieving the goal, Atique said, the university was giving more emphasis on research and was ready to introduce some new disciplines as required by the Times Higher Education Ranking.
‘We are working to open more disciplines in engineering, general science and medicine as required to be evaluated as part of the ranking. A university’s contribution to achieve sustainable development goals is also evaluated and we are addressing the matter seriously,’ he said.
The university plans to open a medicine department with facilities of a 500-bed hospital, medical research centre and nursing training centre, he said.
‘Already, the land for the institution has been finalised and a consultant is working on it. We hope to inaugurate it in five years after getting permission from the University Grants Commission,’ he said.
Professor Atique Islam also said that the government’s approach to the private universities in the country was discriminatory compared to the public universities in case of offering PhD courses.
‘We have all the required facilities and faculties for offering PhD courses. Our faculties are supervising PhD programmes at a Nepalese University. But, we are not allowed to open in Bangladesh,’ Atique said.
He said that he had personally approached president Abdul Hamid regarding the matter and sought his intervention. ‘The government should set some guidelines and conditions for offering PhD courses at the private universities,’ he said.
Atique also said that the students of North South University had many clubs offering students to engage in socio-cultural activities.
But, he said, like other private universities in the country, student politics was not allowed on the campus.
‘Personally, I’m not against student politics as it played great roles in our national movements. But, like others I’m concerned with the present form of student politics in the country,’ Atique said.