Against the backdrop of the evolving Covid-19 situation that might be prolonged even further, the education ministry and the University Grants Commission (UGC) have asked all private and public universities to complete academic activities for the current semester through online classes.
However, private universities will have to hold exams in line with the commission's guidelines.
The decisions came as Education Minister Dipu Moni and Deputy Education Minister Mohibul Hassan Chowdhoury held an online meeting today evening with UGC Chairman Prof Kazi Shahidullah and top officials, vice-chancellors of several public and private universities and leaders of Association of Private Universities of Bangladesh, including its president Sheikh Kabir Hossain.
"At the meeting, we decided that all public and private universities must ensure online classes," UGC Acting Secretary Ferdous Zaman told The Daily Star.
UGC sources said that only 63 universities out of 151 now have online classes. Of them, only two to three are public universities, and the rest are private.
"Many of them are holding online classes in name only," said Ferdous.
He said that it was also decided that all private universities will be able to complete the existing semester through online classes.
"But they will need to follow the UGC guidelines to hold exams. We will make the guidelines soon," he said.
He made the comments as UGC and Association of Private Universities of Bangladesh (APUB) were at odds over awarding grades to students without holding semester finals, enrolling new students without admission tests, and holding tests online.
UGC on April 10, rejected an APUB request to postpone its decisions of not allowing grading students without holding semester finals, enrolling new students without admission tests, and holding tests online.
In a letter to UGC chairman, the APUB chairman on April 10 said they were requesting the commission to postpone its decisions until holding a discussion with their association.
The commission on April 6 asked private universities to stop assigning their current students grades through online exams and evaluation, and to stop enrolling new students without admission tests amid the closure of educational institutions to curb the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
"Several universities have decided to assign grades to students without holding semester final exams and evaluation, and enroll new students without admission tests. This is unethical," UGC had said in the statement on April 6.
Ferdous said at today's meeting it was also decided that private universities will not put pressure on guardians and students for tuition and other fees during the ongoing crisis.
It was also decided that private university authorities will not lay off their teachers and staff and will pay their salaries regularly, he added.