The University Grants Commission (UGC) has said all the public universities should stop conducting evening courses as they harm the image and characteristics of the universities.
In a 13-point directive issued yesterday, the statutory apex body for higher education also called on the vice-chancellors to seek approval from the commission before opening new departments or posts, and to comply with the rules for appointments and promotions at universities.
“Since conducting evening courses harms the characteristics and image of the public universities, it is desirable that the evening courses should be closed,” reads the directive, signed by UGC member Prof Dil Afroza Begum.
The directives came two days after President Abdul Hamid criticised the evening courses, saying that a section of teachers had turned the public universities into “business organisations”, disrupting the overall academic environment on the campus.
“Different public universities have opened many departments, evening courses, diploma courses and institutes. Apart from regular courses, many students are coming out successfully from such ‘business courses’ and a section of teachers are getting cash benefits by turning the university into a business organisation,” the president told the 52th convocation of Dhaka University on Monday.
However, confusion arose over the UGC directive after its public relations wing issued a press release yesterday afternoon, saying that it directed the public universities to close evening courses.
Contacted, Prof Dil Afroza said the press release created confusion.
“Public universities are autonomous institutions. So, a decision cannot be imposed on them. We have issued the directive so that the faculties and academics think on it and take a decision,” she told The Daily Star last night.
As per the public university acts, a university cannot run evening courses, she said.
“But we are concerned to see that the universities are conducting full-time evening courses. These courses have become substitutes of regular courses. So, we came up with the directive,” said the UGC member.
Prof Afroza, however, said the directive would not be applicable to students whose evening courses were running now.
There has long been a debate over running evening courses, with many students and left-leaning student organisations demanding closure of those. They argued the universities were conducting the courses as those helped some teachers make handsome money.
There were allegations too that teachers give more importance to evening courses than to the regular ones.
Yesterday’s UGC directive to the vice-chancellors said as the administrative heads of the universities, the VCs have been performing their duties and responsibilities with their merit, knowledge and wisdom.
“Yet, for some reasons, relaxation in complying with some rules are being noticed. Thus, a chaos is created in the higher education administration which is not expected,” said the commission.
The UGC also asked the authorities concerned to take permission before the appointment of new faculty, introduction of new department, programme or institute and prior to creating new posts or abolishing old ones.
It instructed the universities to follow the university and government rules for the appointment of teachers and staffers. The UGC said it was not desirable to provide “session benefit” to anyone and promote teachers and officials going beyond rules.
Mentioning that some universities relaxed educational qualifications for the posts of teachers and officials, the commission said, “Even rules are being violated in the appointment and promotion processes. Retrospective seniority is being given violating financial rules. In this regard, rules and regulation of the university and the government must be followed.”
Transparency and accountability have to be ensured in the academic, administrative and financial activities and the universities may take suggestions from the commission, the UGC said.