University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) has expelled two students for demanding 50 percent waiver of tuition fees during the coronavirus pandemic, claim students.
ULAB authorities on Sunday expelled Mahmood Sadaat Ruhul and Raihan Atique, both 8th semester students of Media Studies and Journalism.
The university authorities in the expulsion notices said that they expelled the students for pursuing an agenda to malign ULAB's image. They claimed that the students shared "false" information regarding tuition fees, termination of staff members and more on social media and to the press.
Protesting the authority's decision, a group of students were holding a sit-in in front of the university's Ramchandrapur campus -- demanding withdrawal of the expulsion order.
"The decision was unfortunate and reprehensible. Our future has become uncertain," one of the expelled students, Raihan Atique, said, adding that his parents and friends are worried about his education.
Sadaat said that it was an attack on their freedom of expression. "We will appeal to university authorities to withdraw the expulsion order," he said.
Both students said that the university has expelled them as they were taking part in a demand -- since October 23 -- for 50 percent waiver of tuition fees during the pandemic.
Their other demands include cancellation of all student activities fees -- like computer lab fee, library fees and others -- and providing digital devices and internet packages.
ULAB Vice Chancellor Prof HM Jahirul Haque said that they expelled the students as they were trying to "defame the university by circulating false information".
Regarding students' demand of 50 percent waiver, the VC said that ULAB provides scholarships to 90 percent of their 4,200 students. They received 10-100 percent scholarships, he added.
"We don't take any kind of lab fee, library fees. The need for digital devices is a national problem," he added.
In the expulsion orders, ULAB authorities alleged that on October 23, Raihan posted "a false public statement on Facebook mentioning that (1) ULAB has terminated a large number of its employees, (2) ULAB is paying 50% salary to the faculty members".
Authorities also alleged that Raihan on October 28 posted "a false video statement on the ULABian news (a Facebook news portal of ULAB students) that ULAB received allowances from the government for internet connectivity, but is not passing on these allowances to its students and faculty."
Raihan said that he came to know from university officials that several security guards and cleaners of one of the Dhanmondi campuses lost jobs and that authorities have not given increment and others benefits.
The VC said, they are paying full salaries to all faculty members despite these struggling times due to the pandemic. "We outsource cleaning duties according to needs. We still have the same number of security guards," he added.
Authorities alleged that Sadaat, on October 27, issued "a false" and "unfounded" press release and shared it on social media, mentioning that ULAB has cancelled tuition fee waivers for its students and it charges lab, library and other fees.
Sadaat said that the university offered 20 percent waiver on pre-registration fees for Summer semester and that has been cancelled.
The VC said that they have decided they would offer this waiver on a needs basis. "If a student gets 20 percent waiver, he receives a waiver of Tk 4,000 only. After the introduction of needs based system, some students will get waiver of Tk 10,000 or even more," he added.