The University Grants Commission (UGC) has urged the government to introduce free internet packages for university students to enable them to attend online education.
In a letter sent to the education ministry on Tuesday, the regulatory body also sought grants or soft loans for students who need to buy smartphones to take part in online classes. UGC Chairperson Prof Kazi Shahidullah said they have sent copies of the letter to the post and telecommunications division; ICT division; and posts, telecommunications and information technology ministry.
"We hope to get a positive nod from the government. It is an important issue if we want online classes at universities to run smoothly," he said, addding "Universities should ensure at least 80 percent attendance of students in online classes."
UGC sought the grants/soft loan after an online survey of students and teachers of public and private universities showed at least 13 percent students do not have smartphones, according to Shahidullah.
All universities in the country were closed down on March 17, are currently scheduled to remain closed till August 6.
On June 25, UGC at a meeting with VCs of public universities urged universities to start offering online classes to avoid possible session jams.
Though most VCs agreed, they cited lack of facilities at institutions and uneven internet access of students as obstructions to implementing it. The VCs also sought internet packages for students so they can join online classes.
On June 22, the Association of Private Universities of Bangladesh had also called for affordable internet packages for students.
At an online press conference on Thursday, University Teachers' Network -- an association of public and private university teachers -- demanded a special allowance of Tk 3,000 per month for each student infected with the coronavirus. They demanded 50 percent waiver of all tuition fees at private universities.
The organisation also sought one-time or long-term scholarships, interest-free loan of Tk 20,000 for at least half of the students of public universities.