The main reason behind compulsory class attendance is to ensure that students come to attend classes. In many universities, this accounts for five to ten percent of the final grade.
Here's the thing though, university is not only about academics. This is a major transition period for students as they go about making their own decisions and taking responsibility for themselves. As adults, it's time for them to be in charge of their life decisions. They need to be trusted to manage their priorities.
Many students only attend classes as they dread lower grades. One of the major flaws of this policy is that it values physical attendance over actual engagement with the material. If attending a class isn't a priority, chances are they are less likely to pay attention to the class anyway.
It's true that attendance policies are well-intentioned. Such policies have been made with the goal of improving academic performance. Whilst it is not an easy task to do well in tests without attending classes, if a student somehow manages to make up for it by working hard they shouldn't suffer for it.
A huge reason behind students' lack of motivation to attend classes lies in professors' inability to teach course materials in an interesting manner. On top of that, public universities in Bangladesh have no faculty evaluation system. Professors face zero accountability in the classroom. Students' reluctance to attend classes depends more on the class environment and teaching quality. Besides, there are many instances of students commuting long hours merely to attend one class. A student of Dhaka University, who wishes to remain unnamed, says, "Mandated class attendance and participation affects my overall academic performance. It cuts down the hours I can use to study on my own and I end up with less time to read a text. And since I get exhausted from the bus rides to and from Uttara, my productivity level suffers."
Furthermore, such policies are far away from being inclusive. Many professors do not excuse absences due to physical or mental health issues, or other life crises. To create an inclusive environment for all, attendance in universities should be voluntary. Shifting the focus towards lesson quality instead may push up class attendance rates, leading to a win-win situation for all.
Every coin has two sides. While implementing strict rules regarding attendance could be a way to ensure that students attend the classes and are being evaluated on a regular basis, this could also become troublesome for students. Some students, who have major responsibilities along with education faces most inconvenience.