University officials all over Bangladesh are in awe and shock as QT World University Rankings for 2022 have been published. Just when people thought things are as bad as they ever could be, Bangladeshi universities have defied expectations and dropped to their all-time lowest, much to the surprise of the Vice Chancellor of Shahbagh University.
In an online roundtable press conference with soul-crushing background noise, the VC expressed his distress to the media, "The recent rankings are quite shocking, honestly. We have tried putting in minimal efforts to improve our rankings in the past and failed miserably. So, this year, we had decided to give up completely, allocate no budget towards research, devise no actual strategic plan on how to improve and exist solely based on the fixation our society has with public universities, something we've excelled at for years. Yet, somehow, the rankings didn't improve!"
As reporters were puzzled by his expectations to make improvements without any plan or effort, the VC explained, "Our hope was that this year, the rankings would be based on a set of criteria more suited to represent our true stature. After last year's rankings came out, we wrote them a strongly-worded email demanding that this year's rankings should be based on Bengali social perceptions and not on petty worldly achievements like research and citations. And after today's results, we will place a strongly-worded call to make sure they received our email.
"Sure, you can put your kid through Harvard and Princeton and go through the trouble of explaining to your relatives how those universities, although private, are better than the renowned ones in Bangladesh and get socially judged. Or, you can blackmail your kid through the traumatic journey of university entrance exams in Bangladesh and get your shot at four years of social validation. Now THAT—That is something no world university rankings can bring you. Only our flawed outlook on life can."
When asked how the budget was spent, the VC sounded really excited trying to explain the recent developments in the university premises, "The budget was allotted to be spent on research and we take this responsibility very seriously. As part of our efforts to further in Urban Infrastructure Research, we had four separate towers full of well-furnished spacious apartments built for our faculty members. We have been trying to expand our research on Homelessness and Abject Poverty as well. So, we took the money set aside for building student residence halls, and we did nothing with it. We just left it there and watched students struggle. Last but not the least, we were force— my bad, encouraged to reserve a portion of the budget for different student organisations as charity."
One reporter finally accused the VC of creating fictional sectors of research to justify the irrational expense, in response to which he retorted, "Again with the rankings, jeez! Listen, we're all in for celebrating the success of a student who got into Google or Facebook by individual effort and no real support from the university; we'll even make sure we promote the heck out of it, get all the credit and maybe even give the poor soul the glorious chance of taking a picture with me giving him flowers as he stands awkwardly. I get to take credit that way without actually doing anything – now that's something I'd be interested in! But long-term strategic planning and implementation? Isn't that a little too much to be asking from a Bangladeshi educational institution? With all the absurd comments I have to make on live TV, it's tough being a VC already."
"The dictionary defines research as the systematic investigation into materials and sources to establish facts and reach new conclusions," he recited from a Prachyer Oxford Dictionary Pocket Book picked from a shelf behind him, and then continued, "Well, we have investigated and reached the conclusion that we can sit back and relax, while the insecurity and obsession of Bengali parents with getting their kids into reputed universities take care of the prestige, quality and funding of our esteemed institution."
Hasib Ur Rashid Ifti reads books, idolizes Osamu Dazai and plans to check his email any day now. Send him book suggestions at email@example.com