A giant leap in the education landscape of Bangladesh
Today, for Bangladesh, the most effective factor of production is human capital, infused with knowledge, skills, and creative abilities. The primary method of assessing this knowledge-based human production is through higher education offered by different universities and colleges and the resources we have. However, is our higher education really providing quality knowledge and skills to the students and producing human capital?
According to UNESCO Institute for Statistics, at least 44,338 Bangladeshi students went abroad in 2021 to avail of higher education, up from 24,112 in 2015. Hence, this increasing demand for overseas education, fueled by a supply-demand gap at home and persistent quality issues in the Bangladeshi higher education landscape, negatively impacts our economy, as many of the students do not come back and contribute to national development.
On the one hand, we now have a good number of youth population in the country, which stands at 45.9 million, according to the recently-published census report by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). On the other hand, we are running out of time as far as utilising demographic dividends is concerned. At such a crucial point, we need a young skilled workforce with global competence – the only way to sustain the growth the country is achieving right now. To do so, the country needs an education system, especially at the tertiary level, that will foster young talents and help them get international exposure.
Over the past two decades, Bangladesh has made remarkable achievements by providing quality primary and secondary education to every child and ensuring that no child is left out by the education system. Additionally, to equip students with digital knowledge and bring digital transformation to education, IT education has also been made compulsory at the secondary level. To measure and improve the training and quality of school teachers, many initiatives have also been taken by the government as well as the private sector.
In addition to all these incredible initiatives undertaken to improve the education scenario of Bangladesh, more convenient options to avail foreign education is also necessary. This is because students and guardians should have the option to choose the education system best suited to their aspirations and needs. Many of the young students in Bangladesh are unable to fulfill the "foreign education" dream, as a big portion of students who choose to study at international universities need to rely on their families for a stable source of funding. However, many families are unable to provide adequate funding for their children's education when it comes to going abroad for higher education.
To create such opportunities for all and equip today's youth with global skill sets, welcoming global institutes and foreign universities into the country can be a great way forward. This will not only create opportunities for aspiring students to receive a quality education but will also help create a conducive environment for foreign universities to make investments in Bangladesh. Just have a look at how countries like Malaysia have thrived while offering such opportunities to many foreign branches of reputable international universities. Such an arrangement also opens doors for students to easily pursue an international degree at competitive rates without leaving the country.
Recently, UCB has partnered with the University of London (UoL) to bring home one of the most prestigious and renowned University – the London School of Economics (LSE) EMFSS Program. With the academic direction from LSE, they initially offered degrees are BSc Business and Management, BSc Accounting and Finance, and BSc Finance. This university will create opportunities for the hundreds of youth of Bangladesh to access world-class education options right at their doorstep, which will not only save the country from brain drain but also save a large amount of money sent outside the country to study abroad. With the same vision, UCB partnered with Monash College and introduced the Monash University foundation year (Australian grade 12 equivalent) and Monash College Diploma (Australian first year, undergrad program).
Besides, the fundamental benefit of an international campus lies not in saving revenue but in the potential to transform the DNA of the educational landscape of the country and produce local resources with global competence. Their arrival would not only encourage the local institutions of higher learning to push for consistent quality, but a conducive ambiance for learning will be created. Moreover, the arrival of such a prestigious institution like LSE – UoL, and Monash in Bangladesh indicates that we are ready to take the giant leap in our education sector and catalyse some changes that will help us utilise our demographic dividend in the long run by producing skilled people with necessary competence which will, in turn, help the country realise Smart Bangladesh Vision 2041.
Chief Executive Officer - Higher Education