The University Grants Commission (UGC) yesterday said the certificates of the students of 18 private universities would not be acceptable until those were signed by the vice-chancellors appointed by the president.
In an advertisement published in different national dailies, the statutory apex body for higher education said the 18 universities do not have VCs, pro-VCs and treasurers appointed by the president, who is the chancellor of all universities.
"The certificates without the signature of the vice-chancellors appointed by the president will not be acceptable," read the advertisement.
The UGC decision has meanwhile concerned the students of the universities.
Contacted, UGC Chairman Prof Abdul Mannan told The Daily Star that it was the certificates not the degrees which have been declared illegal.
“The degrees have not been declared illegal. The certificates will become valid again once those are signed by the vice-chancellors appointed by the president," he said.
The students of the 18 universities who had their original certificates signed by VCs appointed by the president will not be affected by the decision, said Jesmin Pervin, deputy director at the private university division of the UGC.
The decision will also not be effective for provisional certificates, she told The Daily Star.
The Private University Act-2010 makes it mandatory for a university to recommend names to the president to pick one for the post of VC. The law does not cover the appointments of acting VC, pro-VC and treasurer.
According to the advertisement, the 18 universities are: Asian University of Bangladesh, The People's University of Bangladesh, Premier University, IBAIS University, University of South Asia, Royal University, East Delta University, German University Bangladesh, Ishakha International University Bangladesh, ZH Sikder University of Science & Technology, North Western University, Notre Dame University Bangladesh, Rajshahi Science & Technology University, Ranada Prasad Shaha University, CCN University of Science & Technology, Army University of Engineering and Technology in Qadirabad, Army University of Science and Technology in Saidpur, and Bangladesh Army International University of Science & Technology in Comilla.
Of them, Asian University of Bangladesh has been running without a VC appointed by the president since 2009, The People's University of Bangladesh since April, 2016, Premier University since 2014, IBAIS University since 2012, University of South Asia since January, 2016, Royal University since 2009, East Delta University since 2013, and German University Bangladesh since March, 2016.
The other 10 universities have been running without VCs, pro-VCs and treasurers appointed by the president since their inception, according to the advertisement.
The UGC advertisement has worried students.
"Why should we suffer? We had our VC in office when we got admitted to our university. What is our fault if the university does not have a VC now," said a female student who received her certificates last week after graduating from Premier University.
“We've got the certificates after studying hard for four long years. What shall happen to us if it has no value now,” She told The Daily Star last night, wishing not to be named.
A final-year honours student at University of South Asia said, "I will finish my final semester exam next month and hope to get my certificates within two more months. But I will not be able to apply for any job now. I will be in great trouble.”
“What shall I do during the time to be taken by the university to appoint a VC following due procedures?” he said.
The UGC advertisement said the original certificates earned by students at private universities must be signed by the vice-chancellor and the examination controller.
According to the Private University Act-2010, the president will appoint VC, Pro-VC, and treasurer for the tenure of four years. Therefore, appointing someone in those positions as acting by the university authorities goes against the law, the advertisement said.
"Even the certificates, signed by the VCs who had already completed their terms, will be illegal," the advertisement said.
The VC is the chief executive of the university and an academic official. But despite several directives from the commission, these 18 universities are not taking effective steps to appoint VCs, pro-VCs, and treasurers, said the advertisement.
Explaining the reason for the decision, the UGC chairman said the commission in another newspaper advertisement had issued a one-month deadline to the authorities of 28 universities to appoint VCs following due process before September 30.
Complying with that, some of the 28 universities got people appointed to the posts. But many of them did not even respond, said Prof Mannan.
"Appointments to the posts in some universities have not been given in a proper way since their inception. It cannot continue," he said. "It was the duty of the university to follow the law.”
Asked about the trouble the students would be in due to the fault of their universities, the chairman claimed that the UGC move has nothing to do with the students.
He said the students would be able to get “corrected” certificates once their universities have VCs appointed by the president.
The chairman also urged students to remain careful while choosing their universities.
"We have been publishing a circular in newspapers mentioning the names of the universities which are running fulfilling all the required conditions. We are also publishing the names of those which are not doing that,” he said.
He also said the new universities which were yet to produce any graduate would not face much problem.
Around 4.63 lakh students are now studying in 84 operational private universities and they account for 65 percent of the campus-based students of higher studies in Bangladesh, according to the UGC.