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A Study On Higher Education In Bangladesh:

Retrospect and Prospect

Dr. Kazi Saleh Ahmed
Former Vice Chancellor, Jahangirnagar University
and, President, FREPD, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Since independence of Bangladesh in 1971 the number of institutions, enrolments and teachers have
grown to all levels including higher education, but it is generally and remained seriously deficient
especially so in institutions in which children of disadvantaged households go in large numbers. The
education system has failed to make the grade in respect of access with quality and equity.
The highlights and key features of 2009 education policy recommendations relevant to higher education
are indicated below.
Quality improvement in tertiary education.
Tertiary education institutions, both public and private, should be encouraged to establish and maintain
quality standards within agreed frame-work and to ensure effective use of resources.
A Four-year degree programme should be acceptable higher education qualification for most occupations
except for those aiming for teaching, research and for other jobs that call for specialized expertise.
A three year degree course should be compulsory for all degree students. Various quality enhancement
investments in teaching and teacher up-grading are proposed.
A separate Ministry of Higher Education. The UGC should have greater authority and be renamed as
Higher Education council. Accrediation councils should be formed to encourage improvements and selfregulation in quality of higher education. Incentives should be given for faculty research. The National
Universitys affiliating function should be decentralized to divisional levels by establishing branched.

Education Management in Bangladesh

In essential the present education system follows the pattern established under the British colonial rule.
The system is characterized by the co-existence of three separate systems. These are: General (Bangla
Medium) secular education (main stream); Madrasha (Religion); English medium.
The system has some common elements. Up to HSC level, all of them follow NCTB approved curricula
and there are scopes for reintegration of graduates of one with the other at different levels.
The present education system may be broadly divided into three major stages, viz. primary, secondary
(including higher secondary) and tertiary education. Primary education is imparted basically by primary
level institutions, secondary by junior secondary, secondary and higher secondary institutions, higher
education by degree colleges, universities and other higher level institutions. Pre-primary education is
imparted by most primary level educational institutions and kindergarten schools.

Figure 1 shows the Structure of the Present Education System in Bangladesh.

Figure 1 Educational Structure of Bangladesh







LLB (Hons)


Bachelor Honors



M.Ed &M


Examination SSC
Secondary Education





Examination HSC
Higher Secondary Edu.



M Sc. (Agr)



M Sc.


ma in

















Post MBBS (Eng)
Dipl M Phil


BSc. (Tech.




BDS/BSc. Agr/
Text/ Bsc Eng





Source : BANBEIS 2004

Management of Education sector
The Macro-level management structure of education sector consists of the ministry of primary and Mass
Education (MOPME), the Ministry of Education (MOE), Directorate of Primary Education, Directorate of
Secondary and Higher Secondary Education, District Education Offices and Thana level education
organizations. Primary education (grade I-V) and general non-formal education are managed by the
Ministry of Primary and Mass Education Ministry (MOPME), Secondary, higher secondary level and
higher education by the Ministry of Education (MOE). At Micro level the school management
committees, the Parents Teachers Association, the college Governing Body, the syndicate and Heads of
the institutions work for smooth functioning of the institutions.


Higher Education
The institutes of higher education include a variety of educational enterprises. At present there are 31
public and 51 private universities (UGC Annual Report 2010) and over 1215 degree colleges in operation.
Universities are governed by acts, Statutes, orders and ordinances. Dhaka, Rajshahi, Chittagong,
Jahangirnagar are run by 1973 order. The 1973 order revived the concept of autonomy of Universities,
restored the senate. Syndicate is the highest executive body and the Vice-Chancellor is the Chief
Academic and Administrative Executive.
In 1992, higher education witnessed major shift in three vital areas: establishment of private University
Act, Open University and National University (to control degree education). The government is
contemplating setting up of more new universities of science and professional.
The University Grants Commission (UGC), set up in 1973, serves as an intermediary between the
government and universities in respect of financial allocation. The UGC also approves and monitors
academic programmes of all universities including the private ones. However, the past experience shows
that the UGC has very little control over the universities.
Educational Finance
Central Government expenditure on education was Taka 4455 core during the FFYP (1973-78), Taka
38600 crore during the Third Five Year Plan and Taka 203423 crore in the FFYP (1997-2002).
The share of education in the total expenditure was 7.1% in First Five year plan (1973-78), 3.54% in 3 rd
Five year plan (1985 90) and 6.32% in Fifth Five Year Plan 1997 2002 (MOF). During 1973 2002,
both revenue and development expenditure increased. Intra sectoral allocation for education in fifth five
year plan (1997 2002) was as follows:
Share of the sector in Total






Education sector share in total government expenditure increased from 11.8% in FY 1990 to 14.75% in
FY 2000 and 14.60% in 2002. The share is very low compared to our neighboring countries. The share of
education in GDP was very low during 1973-78 period, 0.9% of GDP. The share rose to 1.2% in 1990,
2.2% in 2000 and 2.5% in 2005.
Investment in education gives high return. Education is considered as the prime mover of human
development for achieving social and economic goals laid down in five year plans. As low as 2-2.5
percent share of GDP or per capita spending of US$7.5 dollar on education is very low compared with
3.7% in India, 3.4% in Shrilanka, 2.9% in Nepal and 4-6% in East Asian countries. Different education
commissions and expert opinions are that public spending in education should be around 5.7% of GDP
(JB 2002). At the same time it is also very important that the amount allocated for education is exactly
spent for the purposes and do not siphoned off by corrupt practices.
Another important point in Bangladesh is that the share of emolument (Salary and allowances) in the total
expenditure is very high and has been increasing over time in every sub sector. The share is highest in
primary education nearly 97% of the total spending in primary education (WB 2000 P 17). Very little is
left for teaching aids and extra curricula activities. The per student cost in primary is lowest. Rural
urban difference in conspicuously high. Low level of expenditure Policy indirectly helped rapid
expansion of primary enrolment.

Education Scenario : Tertiary and other Education

Tertiary education begins after the higher secondary (HSC) level of education and known as higher
education. It includes two types institutions: Colleges including Madrashas and universities. Educational
structure of Bangladesh shows the types of education that are included in tertiary education. Regular
colleges (madrashas) offer bachelors and masters level courses, colleges and institutes offer diplomas
and degrees of diversified studies in professional, technical, technological and special types of education.
Universities offer degrees for bachelor level to Ph. D and postdoctoral studies and also conducts
researchers to promote spread of knowledge and invent new knowledge. The goal of tertiary education is
to spread and consolidate knowledge and develop educated, skilled and knowledgeable man power (NEP
2000). Quality university education is fundamental for quality and sustainable education in all levels of
education, quality mid-to top level executives in all sectors of national economy. The objectives of
tertiary education are to :
Create necessary high level trained man power to meet the countrys development needs;
Create capable citizens who can provide leadership in all fields of national life and endeavor;
Open new horizon of knowledge through research;
Open the door of university education to all regardless of age, sex, caste, professions, to up-date their
knowledge through continuing education;
Promote international cooperation and understanding
Growth of Higher Education in Bangladesh.
In the cultural context of Bangladesh education has always been placed in a position of high esteem. But
till the advent of British rule (Before 1757) education was taken primarily as a source of social prestige.
During British rule (1757-1947), a system of education was designed to produce an elite class from within
the local people so as to serve the economic and political interest of the rulers. Educational institutions
were set up in selected urban centers and English was the medium of instruction. During the first hundred
years of British rule, very little was done for the growth of higher education. In 1857, three universities
were established, one each in Calcutta, Madras (Chennai) and Bombay (Mombai) as replicates of London
University. The other universities established were: Punjab in 1982; Allahabad in 1987, and few more
were set up after 1910 Dhaka university was established in 1921. Although the universities in UK were
autonomous, for Indian Universities autonomy was considered dangerous from political considerations.
During Pakistan period (1947-71) five new universities: Rajshahi (1953), Bangladesh Agricultural
University (1961), Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (1962), Chittagong university
1965 and Jahangirnagar University (1970) were established. Presently there are 82 (31 public and 51
private) uniersities.
The system of higher education Bangladesh inherited was an integral part of colonial set up, having little
relevance to the objectives of higher education needed for the new sovereign nation. It was not only
quantitatively small but was also qualitatively anemic and dysfunctional in terms of producing man power
capable of giving leadership in building a self reliant country. It was desired that the post independent
government would make necessary reforms to meet the expectations of the country. Instead, the
governments emphasized quantitative expansion with no regard to quality. The problems have been
compounded by the existence of three almost completely separate systems of higher education centered
around the universities, the degree colleges and degree level madrashas.

Higher Education 1972-2006.









Annual Growth the

rate of students
1972-99 1999-2010

Source: BANBEIS 2001, 2006, IVB 2005.

* NU and BOU university students are excluded.
There are 3040 colleges and madrasha offering Pass. Honours and masters degree. The total students in
non-university tertiary education than comprise more 90 percent of all students having access to tertiary
education. Less than 10 percent students (Public 5.5 Priv 4.5) are studying in universities. The quality of
non university education is not up to the mark. But 90 percent students have no option but to get enrolled
in colleges and get education which has virtually no market demand: The annual intake capacities of
universities in 2010 was 1957639 of them 1736887 in public universities and 228739 (11.3%) in private
universities. Enrollment in private universities growing annually at about 30% while that in public by 34
percent. The National University is the affiliating and degree granting university for the college
education. Bangladesh Open University (BOU) provides distance education for all types of education
from secondary up ward. The NU and BOU were not teaching universities, but NU runs a part time
training program for the university teaching. Currently BOU offers also similar courses.
Enrollment in Science Subjects:
For a skill based total development of the national economy, there is no alternative to science including
technology education. The available data show that out of all students in 31 general public universities
only 40 percent were science students in 2001 and 41 percent in 2005 and 45% in 2010 . This percentages
are very low for a developing country like Bangladesh
The faculty in Universities and Colleges
Quality Teachers are undoubtedly the most important input for quality education. Public Universities have
been able to maintain a strong faculty composition. In Public Universities the percentage of teachers with
Ph. D. was 41.9 in 1997, 38.7 in 2001 and 36.4 in 2004 and 3.2 in 2010. This trend is not desirable.
The situation is alarming in colleges offering higher education. Only 6.4 percent degree college teachers
have first division wile 6.9 percent teachers have third division in the masters examination (IUB, 4005,
page 90). Poor salary, lack of training and research facility are attributed for poor faculty.
The UGC seminar report 2001 mentions that the present recruitment and promotion rules are also
responsible for the existing stock of poor quality. Universities have their own rules with many relaxation
clauses to help weak candidates having connections with the ruling authority. Some Universities
deliberately recruit lecturers from their own university graduates despite exceptionally good graduates
from other university are available. Another reason for falling quality is the large scale up-gradating of
teachers. The up-gradation system has made promotion easier. Teachers are not very interested to
improve their academic qualification through research, and consequently adversely affecting quality

faculty in the Universities. This has also resulted in rather skewed faculty proportions among the four
ranks of teachers.
In a standard set up the proportion should be 1 professor: 2 Associate Professor: 4 Assistant Professor and
8 lecturer. But in reality in 2001 the share of professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor,
Lecturers was 34:16:28:22 in 2001 and 16:30:23 respectively in 2010. Apart from easy movement to the
higher post this kind of inflation of ranks has several implications in Bangladesh. Professor Huq (Huq
2002) pointed out some implications. For a given budget, this allocation reduces the number of teachers,
leading to higher students teacher ratio, reduces the contact hours, and reduces the opportunity for
brilliant students joining the university: Since research and quality publications are not given top most
priority in promotion and up gradation and continuation in the job , many professors use free time (a
professors class load is about half that of a lecturer) to pursue outside assignment including teaching in
private universities.
Pressure for Expansion

Enrollment in tertiary education has been rapidly increasing (Table 8.1). Higher growth is largely
the outcome of the interplay of the following factors:
a) demand for educated manpower to meet the development needs;
b) vertical push from below exerted by rapid expansion of primary and secondary sub sectors;
c) higher rate of return for investment in higher education over higher secondary education;
d) graduates and masters degree graduates have better employment prospects compared to
graduates with SSC and HSC graduates.
The above factors do not operate in isolation but are intertwined in diverse ways in different situations. In
Bangladesh the impact of these factors, particularly the push factor has been so strong and overwhelming
that necessary follow up arrangements for maintaining the quality have been washed away. The
unplanned growth responsible for the following.
a growing mismatch between education and employment;
declining standard of teaching, evaluation and research;
Prolongation of session jams;
pressure on the existing teaching aids and physical facilities, which are inadequate in all
emergence of new institutions without having minimum required faculty.
The above issues remain overlooked and the nation has been paying a high price in terms of low quality
and higher wastage in higher education sector.
Private University

Increasingly rapid growth of enrolment at primary, secondary and higher secondary level has
been creating in ordinate pressure on tertiary education, particularly on university education
because of higher return compared to investment in college education. Public universities,
although growing rapidly, have been unable to accommodate this pressure primarily because of
fund constraints. The following factors are attributed to the creation of high demand for private

public universities, fail to meet the growing demand for university education;
session jams, uncertainty of obtaining the degree;

deterioration of quality in public universities;

politicization in public universities resulting in operational and academic interruptions, in
security, un scheduled closure for indefinite period;
most courses offered by the public universities have no relevance to the employment market.

On 9 August 1992 (revised 5 April 1998) promulgated the private university act 1992 (article 34) at the
National Parliament to allow establishment of one or more private universities. North South University
was established in 1992, thus becoming the first functional private university in Bangladesh. At present
51 private universities have more than 221 thousand students, the annual growth rate being 16.4 percent:
The proceedings of UGC seminar 2001 and other publications have identified many problems of private
universities, the following are worth mentioning:
Except for a few reputed private universities, most were established hurriedly with solely
business motives;
Most universities are functioning without having adequate class room facilities, computer and
library facility and qualified faculty;
55 percent of total teachers of private universities are part time teachers (UGC 2001), the
percentage ranges over 16 percent at AMA International to 94 percent at Peoples University of
It is clear that private universities are dependent on public university teachers. With this arrangement
(using part time teachers) educational standard cannot certainly be maintained.
As regards courses offered, private universities tend to be selective. They offered only those courses
having high market demand. The courses offered include: BBA, Computer Science, pharmacy MBA,
English, Economics. Pure Science and Biological Science subjects are usually not offered.
University Grants Commission (UGC)
The UGC, following the recommendation of the National Education Policy 1969, was established in
1973, as the apex body of the universities in Bangladesh. It was also expected to play the role of
specialized coordinating body between universities and liaise with the Ministry of Education. In
consistence with the policy framework of the Government, the UGC is expected to deal promotion and
development of higher education and conduct in-depth research in the critical areas of education. It is
almost 33 years since establishment UGC could move very little to mobilize resources as well as carry out
researchers for the overall development of higher education. The WB report (WB 2000) noted that UGC
was set up with relatively weak powers for coordination, planning and resource allocation. UGC does not
have the power to make substantive changes in universities. My own experience is that the UGC has no
control over the universities and that its only work is to recommend allocation of funds to the
government. Moreover, it has no manpower, nor has the resources to hire experts to work for improving
quality of education. According to Professor Zillur Rahman Siddiqui (Siddiqui 1999):
The UGC is functioning much below its optimum scope and efficiency. For years now it has been
manned by senior academics who are either wanting in leadership or otherwise they are there as a result
of political patronage. Under such weak leadership it has failed to demonstrate the kind of initiatives
needed in the improvement of higher education, on inspiring universities in self improvement. It has
totally forgotten its inspectation role .... to see that the new universities start with a proper agenda. It is
therefore urgently necessary that the UGC is revamped through induction of persons of right eminence
and caliber, so that its rightful intervention into the affairs of the universities looks legitimate and
justified. The recent performance of UGC has added to frustration. Time has come to critically evaluate
the performance of UGC as against huge expenditure for maintaining UGC.

Teacher Student Ratio and Class Size

Teacher student ratio and class size are two important determinants of quality of education.
Teachers student Ratio, 1972-2010.
Degree and Masters Colleges
Madrashas (Degree) Universities
Public Private

Source: IUB 2005 and BANBEIS 2006, 2009, UGC 2010.



The situation in colleges is becoming more favorable, while in universities the situation is worsening,
mainly due to more students per teacher in private universities. In Fazil and Kamil madrasha, there is one
teacher for 18 students. The average situation fails to give internal variation. Presumably within variation
is high in all types of institutions.
UGC and BANBEIS do not publish statistics on class size. The overall class size (WB 2000)) averages 70
students in degree colleges. In general university it ranges from 15 to 80 students with a modal number of
50 (based on my experience). Because of large class size teachers resort to lecture method of teaching and
refrain from home tasks and tutorial classes. The unmanaged class size is the key factor affecting teaching
learning process at all levels of education.
Admission in Universities
Admission in Universities is not straight forward. Admission test is conducted to screen out as number of
students aspiring for admission exceeds the number of seats available. As long as HSC examination fail to
serve as reliable test instruments and the results remain doubtful, admission to universities should
continue through admission tests.
Different universities use different procedures for selection of students. The present practice is wasteful
cumbersome and serves as a source of income for many including teachers. The universities and the UGC
failed to develop a system to minimize the harassment of students and minimize the cost a students is now
required to spend only to get one seat in any department.
Session Jam
Session backlog, popularly known as session Jam, is now a major challenge to all the public universities.
As a result of this courses are prolonged and on an average students stay 2-3 years more in the university.
Session Jam is absent in private universities and now many students of well to do families prefer to study
in private universities or abroad.
Session Jam is now a cancer and causing a colossal loss for the nation. This is adversely affecting quality
Two Examiners System and Delay in Publishing Results
Two examiners system was introduced to protect the examinees from biases or negligence of examiners.
When class size was small, it worked well and the results were published in time. With increase in the
number, the system results in inordinate delays in the publication of results, and working as one the main
reasons for session Jam. Two examiners system is not working well and it is time to introduce one
examiner system with inbuilt control system.

Public universities are not functioning well. No one seems to be accountable to any one. The present
system of governance is based on the principle of autonomy. The chief executives, the Vice Chancellor,
and the Pro-Vice Chancellors and the Treasurer are appointed on political and not on academic and
administrative considerations. Too many elections and political interference has made the system
ineffective. Grouping among teachers, officers and students and counter grouping are active to realize the
vested interest. A chain of accountability must be devised and election should be avoided to restore
academic environment in the campus. It seems that it is high time to make necessary amendments of the
university act. The government should immediately move forward to improve the governance through
Teaching learning Process, Assessment and Accreditation
Contact hour between teachers and students has been precariously low at all level in all types of
institutions. In degree colleges and public universities the contact hour is low by any standard. The
teaching learning method is pre-dominantly lecture oriented. In this method interaction between teacher
and students, and among students is minimum and most student simply pass time passively listening to
the lecture. In developed countries this lecture method has become obsolete and out dated. This method
needs to be immediately replaced by problem solving approaches giving more emphasis on developing
thinking ability, self confidence, power of comprehension and oral and written communication. Ideally
the contract hours should be as follows. 33 percent for teachers, 33 percent for students, 20 percent for
discussions in the class room and 14 percent for internal assessment. The existing assessment through
examination has been proved to be ineffective and under serious criticism. It is not clear what we want
through examination. Generally the system should aim to assess the following factors: comprehension,
creativity, expressiveness, communication, self reliance and problem solving capabilities. Unfortunately
our system wants only to assess whether students are capable of reproducing what is written in the text
books. This forces students to opt for rote learning. For measuring learning achievement different
approaches should be used. Test instruments should be such that they provide reliable and valid results.
Currently no effective mechanism exists for independent and thorough assessment/evaluation of faculty
performance, students satisfaction and institution performance that are conducive for quality learning. The
UGC does not have proper accreditation instrument. Accreditation in higher education is a collegial
process of self review and peer review for improvement of academic quality and public accountability of
institutions and programs. Two types of accreditation, commonly used every where may be introduced:
a) institutional accreditation and b) professional accreditation.
Institutional accreditation should be awarded if the college or university meets the prescribed
standards of the accrediting agency. Professional accreditation on the other hand is found to be
extremely useful when institutions often seek specialized accreditation for any specific
department/institutions within the college/university.
Internationally, accreditation is viewed as a voluntary process based on the principles of academic self
governance. It is high time that the UGC in close cooperation of universities devised proper accreditation
system to monitor the quality of tertiary education both in terms of internal as well as external
Faculty Development
Faculty development is a continuous process and is required to meet professional standard and
demonstrate capabilities to create an education friendly environment: currently only about 32 percent
teachers in universities have Ph. D degrees. The situation is alarmingly precarious in degree colleges. The
following suggestions may be reviewed and included in the agenda of faculty development.
Improved facilities for research at the university level;
Teachers must obtain Ph. D. within 5 years of their appointment in the university;

At least one quality research paper annually, published in reputed journal;

Research and seminar on teaching methods, on a continuous basis.

Inequalities and Disparities

Bangladesh made commendable progress in increasing access to higher education. But expansion took
with little regard to horizontal and vertical equity. This lead to many social disorders including violence
and terrorism in the educational campus. The unplanned urban center biased expansion of higher
education has not been able to take care of reducing gap between social groups, although all development
plans reiterated that the country is committed to reducing the gaps. There are miles to go and many
promises to keep.
Male Female Inequality
Participation of girls is still very low despite significant improvement during the last decade.
Percentage of Female students among all students, 1993, 2005.
1) Year
2) Public
4) Private
3) Universities
5) universities
Percentage of girls

8) 1993
13) 2005
18) 2010

9) 24
14) 25
19) 28

10) 15) 23
20) 24

6) Degree

7) Madrasha

11) 32
16) 40
21) 44

12) 17) 34
22) 52

Source : BANBEIS
1999, 2009, UGC - 2010
Compared to degree colleges and madrashas, the percentage of female students has been very low and
remains stagnant at around 28 percent. The participation of girls in degree colleges has been improving
mainly due to low access opportunities in the Universities. In between institutions the variation is high.
The sooner the inequalities are removed, the better it would be for overall development of the country.
Regional Inequality
Regional representation do not receive any consideration at the time of establishing new universities.
Most private as well as public universities are concentrated in Dhaka. Some universities were established
in Rajshahi and Chittagong. In case of degree colleges, regional representation was in line with the
percent of population.
Financing Higher Education
Bangladesh higher education system faces sharp criticism for its failure to build a sound financial base for
the universities and colleges. The issue of quantitative expansion has received priority while investment
in quality has been ignored. Countries that addressed the twin issues simultaneously have reaped higher
Major sources of financing education in Bangladesh are: Government and students. Private institutions
depend largely on students fees and partly on government subvention. Public institutions depend largely
on Government grant. The world Bank (World Bank 2002) provided the following statistics for tertiary
Per student yearly expenditure:
Amount Receive from government:
Amount spent by private household
Private household bear 49% of the total cost while 51% comes from the public fund. The share of
university education in the total revenue expenditure in education has been between 8 to 9 percent during

1991-2000. In the development budget for education the share of university education was 10.1% in 1991
and 5.9% in 2000. The relative share has been decreasing.
Most universities started offering courses without creating basic teaching facilities. In case of public
universities, the shortage of fund is the main constraint for creating facilities. Huq
observed that in 1999, the nine public universities spent 72 percent of their revenue budget for pay and
allowance, 17 percent for administrative and maintenance cost and only 11 percent for education related
expenses and of that only 2 percent was allocated for research. According to UGC annual report, the
universities spend less than 1.5 percent on research related activities. This is the general situation, some
universities even do not spend any amount for research. It is evident that of the total available fund 65 to
95% is spent on salaries leaving hardly any amount for quality improvement.
The WB report 2003 shows that both private and public spending are inequitably distributed between
economic groups. Both private and public spending are lowest among the poorest. Majeri (Mujeri 2003)
shows that spending on tertiary education increases with income of the household.
Education spending by Income Poverty status (in percent)
24) Variables
36) Private spending
on Education at
tertiary level
45) Public spending
on Education at
tertiary level

29) 1

25) Quintile Income status

30) 2
31) 3
32) 4

37) 0.7

38) 1.1

39) 9.3

40) 17.9

33) 5
41) 71.2

46) 6.0

47) 6.0

48) 10.0

49) 21.0

50) 57.0

26) Poverty status

34) Poor 35) Nonpoor

28) Total

42) 5.3

43) 94.7

44) 100.0

51) 17.0

52) 83.0

53) 100.0

Source: Mujeri, M. K. Financing Education, 2003

These indicators reflect inherent weaknesses in educational financing and uneven distribution of
educational opportunities. Spending on education and quality education are strongly correlated. Data of
Table 8.4 reveal that a rich student is likely to get high quality education compared to a poor students.
For government colleges and public universities major source of income is government grant. Students
fee is the second source of income. Before 1947, students fee was about 45-51 percent (IUB 2005) of the
total Dhaka university income. This share has now come to less than 10 percent. The reason is that there
has been virtually no increase in the tuition fees, a very small increase in other types of fees, although
about 80 percent of all students are from well to do families. Private universities on the other hand charge
on average Taka 100,000 per year for a four year program. University to university variation is quite large
The major weaknesses of the government financing are that financing is not linked with performances,
not with need of the institution and also to subsidize the cost of poor students. Financing is responsive to
political pressure. Consequently wastage has been increasing. Unless a proper financing policy is evolved
to locate wastage, cost efficiency, dividend from investment, and source of additional revenue and
protection of access of poor meritorious students, higher education in public sector is likely to face
declining quality problems. UGC should move forward to evolve quality effective and cost effective
financing system linked to performance and protection of poor meritorious students.
Excellence in University Education

Dhaka University was the center of excellence in higher education. Before independence in
1971, the universities in Bangladesh produced outstanding scholars, social thinkers, scientists,
and leaders. After independence, because of unplanned expansion together with strikes, political
violence, unscheduled closure, political interference the academic standard started diminishing.

Session Jam has been aggravating the already existing disappointment among the students and
teachers. The word excellency is non existent in case of any university.
It is difficult to measure excellence of a university, particularly when a university is beset with academic
and non-academic problems. Every one asks what are the essential pre requisite of excellence ?
Excellence must be viewed from a holistic perspectives taking all prevailing factors into consideration.
According to Raza (Moonish Raja 1991) the pursuit of excellence can best be achieved through deep
commitment to this cause and adopting appropriate strategies with respect to : (i) up dating of curricula on
a continuous basis, (ii) strengthening university college linkage; (iii) man power planning (iv)
institutional development, (v) University and labor market interaction; (vi) linkage between education and
society (vii) information system and awareness; (viii) educational and research programs; (ix) Faculty and
quality of faculty; (x) governance; (xi) relevance of education to development; (xii) empowering the
students; (xiii) skill development, so that students learn not only solving problems on performing a
particular job, they are also fit to make presentations and offer leadership. Essentially center of excellence
must have components each having qualitative programs. The basic components are shown in figure 5.
Some Observations

Expansion (increase in enrolment) without quality and equity can not meet the future challenges
of the country. Major improvements are required to make the universities and educational
institutions as centers of excellence.
Research is a neglected area. Education curricula are not up dated and do not incorporate essentially
important elements that create leadership quality, promote good citizenship and love for the country and
its people.
Education is to be considered as an integral part of human development and overall development of the
country. All individuals regardless of political ideology should put hand in hands to prepare. National
Education Policy and mobilize all resources to implement the NEP. NEP should be based on research
findings. The priority of sciences, Arts Commerce and business, should be determined on the basis of
national needs to make education relevant to the market, societal and national needs.
Figure 2: Mutuality of various aspects of University education.
Education and


Center of

Source : Moonish Raza, 1991

Industry, R & D
education and

The campus should be free from politics, violence and political interference. The 1973 university act
failed to create Universities as centers of excellence. Modification is essential. Students and teachers
should not actively involve in national politics and be members of any political party. Students Union
help build leadership quality among the students.
Admission and appointment should be based on academic consideration only and quota system should be
totally abolished.
Rich poor, rural urban, men, women, regional disparities are increasing. The trend of increasing
inequality needs to be arrested and reversed. The efficiency criterion of getting the best output at
minimum social and private cost should be taken into consideration to attain equality of marginal benefit
at all levels of education.
If we agree with Nelson Mandela that, Education is the most powerful weapon (We) can use to change
the world then we must endeavor to make all institutions as center of excellence. If we develop the
perception, that education is a commodity to be purchased or sold, then we would make very little
contribution to the common good of our people, of mankind.
Conclusion: Lessons Learnt
The foregoing sections have attempted to highlight the state of access, quality, equity and disparities in
access, progression, transition between levels of education. The findings have limited scope mainly
because of non availability of reliable data and difference in understanding some of the key parameters
like access, drop out, repletion, continuation etc.
Assess in Tertiary Education
The demand for tertiary education, as a result of increasing pressure of HSC graduates, has been sharply
increasing. In responses to meet the demand , the unplanned expansion is taking place. One response is
the rapid growth of private and public universities and the other is the expansion of degree colleges.
NEP 2000 and education commission Report 2004 have called for a complete reform of higher education.
They have recognized the importance of emerging trends of specialization as well as introducing
interdisciplinary programs which in turn requires restructuring of tertiary education.
Lack of facility, particularly qualified faculty, out dated curricula and lack of equipments have resulted in
sharp deterioration of quality. Ensuring quality in colleges and universities demand modernization and up
grading of curricula, emphasis on research, development of faculty, introducing interaction with job
market and coordination with the UGC.
The government and the donor agencies have not made any rigorous study to determine the existing and
future needs of this very important sub sector. Donor supported projects and government development
project are never integrated and not responsive to the changes required in the higher education sub sector.
Access to university education is extremely limited to the poorer strata of the country. Poor students have
no access to private university education. Higher education is plying as an instrument of grater inequality
and greater disintegration. The whole system should be reviewed toward reducing gap between the least
and most advantaged groups.

Governance and administration in higher education particularly in public universities are in need of
fundamental overhaul. The scope of UGC should be broadened and the parsons of eminence capable of
giving leadership should be inducted to run the UGC.
Most of the departments and universities do not have new information and communication technologies
for making learning resources available, improving quality of instructions. For maintaining minimum
standard and helping the graduates equipped before entering into the completive job market the
administration and the UGC should take steps to have ICT in every department of higher education.
Resource Constraints, Quality and Equity
All institutions and universities do not have adequate facility for offering specializations. Even then they
have been offering the courses. Resources are not properly utilized. Adequate fund for quality assurance
must be the main concern in future development of higher education. Public Private collaboration, cost
sharing and cost recovery should be the strategy for dealing with resource constraints, enhancing
resources for developing capacity and capability and contributing to equity in the education system. To
achieve equity there should be provisions for giving support to students from poor families.
To address the access, equity, quality, governance and resource constraints issues the country must have
an overall vision for development of higher education as an integral component of national education
Campus Politics, Violence and Unrest
Public university campuses and college campuses have become center of politics instead of center of
excellence. Campus politics violence and outside political interference have vitiated the academic
environment. Unrest in the campuses has been adversely affecting the learning process. Restoring
academic autonomy and academic environment in the universities and colleges without any outside
interference should be a high national priority. The government and the political leaders should come
forward to find ways and means to restore academic environment in the campuses. It is high time to
review the effectiveness of 1973 act and election of Vice chancellor, Deans and other offices and come
out with needful modification in the greatest interest of the country.
For our own survival and living with dignity we must keep in mind Mandelas message Education is the
most powerful weapon we can use to change the world. We must therefore mobilize all our resources to
acquire that education which will transform Bangladesh into a prosperous nation.

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