Staff Correspondent: Performance of the country’s universities is poor in the field of research due to insufficient fund allocation and as a result, no Bangladeshi university is found in the top 1000 universities in the world, according to education experts.
For the 2022-23 academic session the University Grants Commission (UGC) has allocated Tk1 lakh for each teacher while the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) is planning to provide Tk20 lakh to teachers for good research projects.
“We will collect the money privately from the 25 national and international organisations we have affiliations with,” said Prof Mizanur Rahman, director of students’ welfare at the Buet.
The UGC yesterdayallocated Tk150 crore for research out of the total budget of Tk10,000 crore for 51 public universities that have over 15,000 teachers.
Although there is a trend of increasing allocation every year, the amount is not adequate to conduct quality research that is at par with global standards.
No Bangladeshi university has been included on the list of top 100 institutions in the QS Asia University Rankings 2022, reflecting the persistently poor status of Bangladeshi universities as none of the universities has been in Asia’s top 100 since 2019.
The 142 public and private universities of the country altogether spent Tk184 crore – an average of Tk1.26 crore each – on research activities in 2020, which is only 2% of their total academic expenditure, according to the UGC.
Education experts attributed Bangladesh’s 120th position out of 154 countries in the Global Knowledge Index 2021 to the meagre research spending. The country performed the worst in the research, development and innovation sector among the seven areas that the index incorporates.
The country achieved only 19.2 out of 100 in the research, development and innovation sector. Last year, the country also scored the lowest in this sector among others.
Noted Educationist Professor Syed Manzoorul Islam said that the main job of a university is to innovate something through research. But in Bangladesh, teachers cannot conduct quality research because of the funding crisis.
The government must take a mega plan to build laboratories and ensure a good academic atmosphere to boost research and produce skilled graduates, he said.
“The public universities in the country are far from research work. The universities have been producing graduates for some mid and low-level local jobs only,” he added.
Professor Siddiqur Rahman, former director of the Institute of Education and Research at Dhaka Universitysaid that it is disappointing that no Bangladeshi University is in the top 100 of Asia.
“It is very unfortunate that the government allocates only 1.5% for research from the total university budget. It should be at least 10%,” he said.
“Our public universities are busy with teachers’ politics instead of researching. Most private universities are doing business in the name of higher education. Every country allocates the highest budget for the education sector but it is in a bad shape in our case,” he added.
Professor Emeritus of Brac University Manzoor Ahmed also said research funding should be at least 10% of the total academic expenditure. Otherwise, Bangladesh’s universities will not be able to compete at the international level.
Professor Md Akhtaruzzaman, the vice-chancellor of Dhaka Universitysaid that they are going to finalise a master plan to boost research activities.
“We are also trying to ensure quality education and emphasise research activities. We will allocate more funds for research compared to the previous years,” he added.
A teacher of Dhaka University wishing anonymity told that quality and good research is impossible with the fund allocated by the university.
Abroad, a university spends more than our total public university’s research fund.
Professor Dr Alamgir, a member of the UGC said that they will seek more funds from the Education Ministry for research if the universities can convince the commission.
Top universities spent less than 1%
Dhaka University’s total expenditure was Tk787 crore in 2020, while it spent only Tk6.61 crore, or 0.83% of the total expenditure, on research. In 2019 it spent only Tk5.20 crore of the total expenditure of Tk700 crore.
Jahangirnagar University’s total expenditure was Tk253 crore in 2020 but it spent only Tk3 crore on research. In 2019 the university spent only Tk2.27 crore on research from the same expenditure of Tk253 crore.
The total expenditure of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology in 2020 was Tk214 crore, while it spent Tk2.30 crore on research. In 2019 the total expenditure was Tk226 crore while it spent Tk2.30 crore on research.
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