Private universities cut research budget

The University Grants Commission (UGC) alleged that the country’s private universities are decreasing their expenditure in research sector despite having a legal obligation to spend a significant portion of their annual budget in research. According to UGC, 64 private universities of the country spent Tk 93.37 crore in research in 2016, Tk 78.94 crore was spent by 73 private universities while in 2017 for the same purpose.
UGC sources said currently the number of private universities in the country is 103.

The overall expenditure of these higher education institutions is increasing year by year. A large portion of this expenditure is going to sectors like building rent and salaries while sectors that improve quality of education are being neglected. The private universities are not focussing on issues like research, publication, collection of books and teacher-student ratio.

In this context, Professor Abdul Mannan, former chairman of UGC, told the Bangladesh Post: “Most of the annual expenditures of private universities is in non-productive sectors. Expenditure for improving quality of education and research is comparatively much less. A good portion of annual expenditure is going to rent and maintenance sectors. Besides, private universities’ expenditure is also increasing due to part-time teachers.”

Under the Private University Act-2010, a significant portion of the annual budget of the private universities has to be spent in research sector, but the real scenario is far from the aim. International University of Business Agriculture and Technology (IUBAT), in 2016, spent Tk 49.74 lakh in research sector. In the following year, in 2017, it decreased to Tk 42.11 lakh.

As a higher educational institute in agriculture and technology, the university was supposed to put emphasis on research sector, but the reality is the opposite. The same situation prevails in Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology also which spent Tk 48.10 lakh in research sector in 2017, but in the previous year, it was Tk 51.54 lakh.

More or less the same situation prevails in all other private universities, said concerned sources. UGC sources said not only the research sector, authorities of the private universities are deliberately ignoring issues like up-gradation of laboratories and libraries. In 2016, 78 private universities altogether spent Tk 90.32cr whereas in the following year 87 universities spent 90.31cr, they added.

Dhaka University Emeritus Professor Dr Sirajul Islam Chowdhury considers the trend a negative aspect for higher education. In this regard, he said that having a rich library is one of the important aspects of education and research activities of higher education institutes. But the private universities’ authorities do not allot enough funds for the development of library.

“The librarian cannot add new books according to the students’ demand. Besides, the library infrastructure is not being expanded at those universities to accommodate more readers. On the whole, libraries that are birthplace of knowledge are remaining heavily neglected in the country’s private universities,” the eminent educationist added.