Necessity of research in universities

Published : 13 Dec 2019 07:39 PM | Updated : 06 Sep 2020 05:55 AM

Research is a prime component of any higher education institution. The amount of research work being done by a university per year is indicative of its academic potential. It also reflects on the student body and the faculties of the university. 

The scenario in public universities in terms of research prospects is quite disheartening. The universities in the country are falling behind in the research arena compared to the different universities in the world. The world ranking of the country’s public universities has also fallen in the last few years.

When it comes to academic research, the quality is also a factor, not just the quantity of research being churned out. The research must have impact in the academic and real world. The applicability of the research is crucial in our knowledge-driven world. 

Sadly, no public universities of Bangladesh could earn any place among 1,500 universities in global ranking. This is a great shame for our country, as the public universities and their rankings represent us in the world. The country’s top public universities are at the bottom of the world rankings.

The lack of research initiative reflects badly on the quality of higher education at public universities. There needs to be more funding in public universities as well as other initiatives to encourage research as well. The authorities also need to create posts for research so that young researchers will be enthusiastic to come into the sector where senior professors will guide them.

The need for research is not just academic; the whole of society stands to benefit from research findings in any field. However, a growing trend in research is the focus on commercially driven research, as these types of research tend to have more funding. 

The lack of funding discourages even students from science background from going into research. If the fresh graduates are incentivized with the salary of a lecturer, many students from different backgrounds will compete to do research. 

Public universities allocate between 1 and 5 percent of their total budget for research whereas ideally the allocation for research should be at least 10 to 15 percent of the total budget. The reach of funding in these institutions is very limited and researchers do not have access to creation and maintenance of quality facilities. For quality research to be facilitated, researchers should also have access to modern staff support, modern equipment, informational infrastructure and funding of academic activities such as conference attendance. 

Another institutional failure when it comes to research is the lack of consideration when it comes to reduced teaching loads and other responsibilities of researchers. They should be compensated for the great burden that they carry on their shoulders on behalf of the whole institution. 

A deterrent when it comes to students and teachers taking up research work is the lack of respect for intellectual property. Plagiarism is rife in this day and age as everything is available to us at the touch of a button. Instances of copyright infringement discourage researchers as they’re hard work is stolen without any consequences. Therefore, we must implement stricter penalties for plagiarism and it must be dealt with as a serious crime, not just an academic misdemeanor. 

Universities must strive to make research more lucrative and viable for masters’ level students through the allocation of funds. The impact of doing so will not only be reflected in their academic life, but will also boost their employability. Involving oneself in research helps to give valuable insight into decision making process as well as analytical thinking. These skills are no doubt valuable in the current job market. 

While our public and private universities are churning out students en masse, they lack such skills are therefore remaining unemployed long after graduation. If we can nurture the practice of doing academic research, we will no doubt be able to produce students who are equipped with a vast array of knowledge and skills. 

The impact academic research has on the overall socio-economic development of a country cannot be undermined. Particularly, for a country like Bangladesh, which is undergoing massive changes in virtually every sector, research is imperative. We need more research in order to better understand upon the ever-changing social, cultural and economic aspects of our country. 

While infrastructural development is important universities must also pay attention to research in order to improve quality of higher education in the country. The government needs to ensure that a larger portion of public university budgets are allocated for research. The government should also take up other initiatives to incentivize researches such as the introduction of grants and academic awards. 

The importance and implications of research on human and social development can hardly be stressed enough. Research is the tool that we use to expand our knowledge base in each and every field. In our knowledge-driven society, research is the one indicator which can set us apart from the rest as any new knowledge is more valuable in today’s world than any physical possession.  

Synthia Kainath Nur is working with Bangladesh Post