President Abdul Hamid has rightly pointed out the general malaise that has gripped our public universities over the years. At the 52nd convocation of Dhaka University, he has drawn our attention to a number of problems that are behind the current unfortunate state of the public universities. The president has said that commercial courses have been turning our public universities into business organisations, which, in fact, is disrupting the academic environment of the campus. He was absolutely right in saying that many public universities assume the character of private universities at night because it is common knowledge that there are teachers who are reluctant to take regular classes but are really serious about evening and diploma courses, and classes at private universities.
Many of the country’s prominent public universities have been in the news recently because of corruption, financial anomalies and all sorts of unethical activities by a section of teachers and students. The recent incidents at some of our public universities, including Jahangirnagar University and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University (BSMRSTU) in Gopalganj, have revealed how corruption, inefficiency and a lack of transparency and accountability have gripped the public universities. The brutal murder of a student in a BUET dormitory by the Chhatra League activists has revealed the general environment of terror that exists in the major public universities of the country.
Now the question is, what can be done to improve the overall educational environment of the public universities? In his speech, the president has also given some suggestions which we think are worth taking seriously. Since public universities are run with taxpayers’ money, the teachers must be accountable to the people. The vice-chancellors and other teachers must ensure proper use of the university funds which are often misappropriated. The funds for research activities need to be increased significantly and stress should also be given on producing quality research works. Moreover, the university authorities must ensure that the graduates they are producing every year have the necessary skills to compete in the job market.
Needless to say, all these things can be achieved only if the teachers perform their duties with honesty and dedication and shun their ambitions for other gains.