UK universities want to get into Bangladesh's higher education market to help the country develop its human capital, said British High Commissioner Robert Chatterton Dickson said at a dialogue on Thursday.
“Bangladesh's human capital is probably its strongest asset... It has an enormous potential. But the key to unlocking that potential and making the most of it is education,” he said.
The high commissioner said this while delivering the keynote speech at Cosmos Dialogue at a city hotel.
He hoped that Bangladesh youth will benefit from the world-class education Britain can offer. It will be a real contribution to the development of human capital in the South Asian country, he observed.
“In an increasing globalised and competitive world, the key to education is making sure that young Bangladeshis have the ability to draw on the very best higher education available,” the high commissioner said.
Dickson noted that they have made it clear to the Bangladesh government that it will be possible to open up local higher education market in a way that will enable the British universities to operate.
“They [UK universities] are banging on the door but the door is closed. We'd like that door to be opened,” he told the “Bangladesh-UK Relations: Prognosis for the Future” symposium, the second edition of Cosmos' Ambassador Lecture Series.
At the programme, Mohammadi Group Managing Director Rubana Huq urged the UK to extend cooperation to enhance the quality of Bangladesh's primary education.
“That's key for us,” she said. Reskilling is something the British government can help Bangladesh with by focusing on its primary education, she added.
Dickson agreed that tertiary education is crucial, observing that there are 44 million children in school.
AK Khan Foundation Trustee Secretary Salahuddin Kasem Khan said Bangladesh needs to invest in tertiary education. He said the country's education quality has dropped and offshore campuses of leading British universities can help it improve.
The high commissioner said there are British universities who are interested in setting up offshore campuses. Letting UK universities in will benefit both the country's universities and youth, he observed.
He said the British Council, operating in Bangladesh since 1951, has been making an exceptional contribution to education, English language teaching and culture.
'MAXIMUM USE OF COMMONWEALTH PLATFORM'
Former Ambassador Prof Selina Mohsin pointed out that little funding has turned the once vibrant Commonwealth secretariat small.
"The British government should prioritise to revamp it," she said.
Prof Selina said it can play a strong role in improving Bangladesh's education quality to meet its requirement of the labour market by providing more scholarships for tertiary and secondary students and sending teachers here.
Lt Gen (retd) ATM Zahirul Alam suggested the UK to increase its support in technical, vocational and primary education to contribute to Bangladesh's development. "You can provide more scholarships for undergraduate students that will help enhance our education quality," he said.