Please tell us a little about Eastern University?
Eastern University was established in 2003 with the vision of being a leading university in South Asia and with a goal to produce future leaders with knowledge and skills essential for leadership. To be a leading one, a university must ensure quality of education in terms of quality of students and teachers, and right academic environment but it should also grow in number of students, teachers and facilities. Following this strategy, Eastern University has, over the years, grown slowly but steadily without compromising with quality of education. The University started with 5 programs , 168 students , 28 teachers and one building. Now we have about 15 programs, 3500 students, more than 150 teachers, and four buildings. Already, 4500 have graduated most of whom are employed and others are self-employed as entrepreneurs, lawyera and computer professionals. We are now drawing up a six year plan up to 2020 including a plan for developing quality of education further. In next two years, our objectives are to increase student enrollment by 10 percent and teacher recruitment by 10 percent, update the course curricula, strengthen faculty development, allocate more fund to encourage research and move to permanent campus in Ashulia.
Please tell us something about the achievements of your university in last 5 years.
Substantial improvement has taken place during last 5 years. For a reputation as provider of quality education Eastern University has been able to attract better students and teachers. Top graders of Dhaka University, BUET and other reputed Universities apply to Eastern for teaching position. Through impartial and rigorous selection process, we pick up the best from among them as teachers. Then we train them in the art of teaching and research. We have now 47 Ph. Ds including part-timers in the University . Part-time teachers are professors from Dhaka University, BUET, IBA and Jahangir Nagar University. The number of students with HSC GPA 4 and above has increased to more than 50% of the total number of students and there are few students below GPA 3. In masters programs students come from a variety of background but again their performance in HSC and later stages are closely screened. In Eastern University, the minimum CGPA required for graduation from any program is 2.5 which is higher than in many other private universities. Our faculty members teach sincerely, they are friendly with students and assist in learning outside the class. They closely monitor and objectively evaluate and grade performance of the students. This is the major reason for higher rate drop out of students from the our University but the academic results of the graduates have improved.
What steps as the new Vice Chancellor you have taken to scale up the performance of EU?
Although I am new as Vice Chancellor here but three years ago, I was Acting Vice Chancellor and Pro Vice Chancellor of this University. So I am thoroughly familiar with it.
In the faculties and departments, I am encouraging the Deans, Chairpersons and faculty members to inspire and assist students to put in their best efforts in learning so that their results improve and drop- out rate decreases. Majority of our new students come from references by our students, their parents and teaching community in colleges. So we encourage them to refer potential students. As the number of students scale up, we shall increase number of teachers and staff in the departments. In addition to academic pursuit, we want our students to develop their social and interpersonal skill. For this purpose, we encourage our students to participate in co-curricular activities through one or more of the 16 clubs and forums many of which are in the departments. I am strengthening these clubs and forums. I have started reorganizing the administrative departments and streamlining the work system and procedure to make them more efficient so that visitors, students, teachers and employees get better service in less time. Good work system is not enough for efficient performance unless the employees have the right skill. So I have also initiated training program for the officers and staff to further improve their skill. In this age of ICT, many office operations can be performed faster with much less people. So I have asked the IT Personnel of the University to reform and redesign the existing software system and, if necessary, install new software. For example, recently we have installed an automated system where an applicant for admission can apply on line, pay admission test fee and know result of his admission test on line. This will also save manpower needed to manually enter the application data in computer for student record.
I like all members of EU family to believe in and work for the slogan “We are for our students.” To realize this motto, I have initiated a training on Interpersonal skill development for the officers and staff so that they improve their dealing with any one coming to him/her for service. All steps will continue and are expected to scale up the performance in the departments.
Next step that I shall take is to assist each department to develop strategic plan and an implementation plan by preparing 5 year plan, annual and semester plan. I also want to develop Key Performance Indicator(KPI) for each position of the departments to help each member of the Department achieve better performance. Other steps I have to take is to design a motivational compensation package and leadership training for sections/department heads so that the employees are inspired to put in their best efforts. We shall also expand and strengthen linkages we have with foreign universities for students transfer, faculty exchange and joint research. Another important step that I am going to take is to train the graduating students in skills needed to get jobs and make a successful career.
What benefits do you offer to meritorious students who come from poor families?
The founders of Eastern University include university professors, engineers, chartered accountants, retired civil servants and philanthropic businessmen. They have achieved success in their life coming from middle /upper middle class families and they shared the view that still a large majority of meritorious students come from middle /upper middle class. They observed in early 2000 that some private universities charge high fees which are beyond the reach of the middle class and some universities charging lower fees do not provide quality education. So the founders decided to set up a university which provide “Quality Education at Affordable Fees”[commitment of Eastern University. Apart from affordable fees which again is taken in installments to relieve the fixed income parents, the university gives tuition fee waivers from 10% to 100% to meritorious students. The children of freedom fighters are given 100% tuition fee waiver. Students who cannot continue study because of inadequate fee waiver are given student loan which s/he is expected to pay back any time in his/her life. In addition, there are more than a dozen scholarships. In 2013 alone, about Tk. 4 crore was given as waivers, loan and scholarship to students.