At least 10 public universities are distributing research fund among all their teachers as "research allowance", while many of the teachers are giving classes at private universities without prior approval from authorities, officials of University Grants Commission (UGC) said.
Against this backdrop, UGC in a statement yesterday asked authorities of public universities to ensure that all teachers abide by service rules and take permission before working with other educational institutions and running their own businesses.
UGC also asked public universities to utilise funds allocated for research properly. The statement said UGC had sent three separate letters to vice-chancellors of 45 public universities regarding the matter.
"Teachers should take prior permission before working anywhere and the authorities of universities must know where they are working," UGC chairman Prof Kazi Shahidullah told The Daily Star yesterday.
"We also want accountability on how the allocated money for research is being spent, and what kind of research is going on," he added.
UGC in the statement said it allocates public money for universities for research, who then distribute the fund after scrutinising submitted project proposals, following a review.
"But it seems some public universities are flouting the rules," it said, adding, "We are urging all to ensure that allocated funds are given to only approved research projects."
UGC member Muhammed Alamgir said at least 10 universities are distributing research fund among all teachers as "research allowance".
He, however, did not disclose names of the universities.
Regarding service rules, the UGC statement said no teachers and staff members [of public universities] can be part of any other government or non-government institutions and profitable organisations, and own business directly or indirectly.
The statement said UGC came to know that some teachers and staff members are working without prior approval of authorities, violating the rules. Some are also operating own businesses. "We are urging vice-chancellors to ensure that all abide by the service rule," the statement added.
Alamgir said many public university teachers are working with three to four educational institutions and doing consultancy and maintaining own businesses, keeping public university authorities in the dark.
There are at least 4,500 part-time teachers working with private universities; most of them are teachers of public universities, said the UGC official.
Distribution of research fund among teachers as research allowance and public university teachers working with others educational institutions are years-old problems, but no action has been taken in this regard in the recent past. Asked about it, Alamgir said the VCs should take action against such activities.
"We [UGC] can take action after investigation but that would be a lengthy process. If a VC takes action, it would be better for the university's accountability," he added.
Contacted, Prof Kamal Uddin Ahamed, president of Bangladesh Bishwabidyalay Parishad, a platform of VCs of public universities, said no one should utilise research funds as research allowance for teachers.
"I am not aware which universities are doing that, and which teachers are working with others universities and doing own businesses," he added.
UGC in its statement also asked authorities to prepare a list of students who will need assistance to buy smartphones to attend online classes during the coronavirus crisis, by August 25.
As the universities are closed for a long time, students are facing immense losses, it added. UGC had urged all universities to go for online classes to minimise the loss. It also sought free internet package and soft loan or grant to buy smartphones for students.
EDU MINISTRY SEEKS LIST OF SENIOR PROFESSORS
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has sought a list of senior professors of public universities so that the president, also chancellor of all universities, if needed can select and appoint them as VC and pro-VC of state-run universities by August 31.
The ministry took the decision after a meeting yesterday evening, Deputy Education Minister Mohibul Hassan Chowdhoury told The Daily Star.
The posts of VC at three public universities and of pro-VC at 25 universities are vacant at present.
The ministry also asked for proposals from private universities to appoint VC and pro-VC within September 10.
Posts of VC at 19 private universities and of pro-VC at 83 universities are currently vacant.