One of the requirements under the Private University Act (PUC), 2010 is the enactment of the service rules by all the private universities. But unfortunately most of the private universities in Bangladesh are yet to enact service rules for their own teachers, employees and staffs.
Due to lack of service rules these institutions are basically governed abiding by the directions and dictation of the board of trustees.
According to section 16(3) of the PUA, 2010 every university is obliged to make its own service rules and university statute and then to send the same to the University Grants Commission (UGC) for approval.
As per section 37, every private university syndicate in accordance with this Act, and Order and policies of the UGC is duty bound to enact its own university statute regarding its education, research, administrative, financial and other functions and to get approved through placing it before the chancellor by the board of trustees and the government.
Similarly, each and every private university is to fix a salary structure and service rules and regulations for teachers, employees and staffs and to inform UGC under section 43 and even the UGC can provide advice in this regard after being informed.
It is alleged that some private university authorities increase tuition fees within a short notice and even within one or two months but the same institutions while planning to raise salaries for teachers, employees and staffs spending one year to two years.
It may look odd but truth is that Vice Chancellor (VC), Pro Vice Chancellor (Pro VC), Treasurer and Registrar of private universities are holding meeting after meeting with the members of the board of trustees for settling these matters but these meetings are ended with heavy lunch and sometimes taking of handsome amount of money as a means of conveyances by the board of trustees.
In many private universities due increment and promotion of teachers and staffs are kept withheld by the university authority especially by board of trustees for two or more years. These are punishable offences under section 46(3) of the PUA, 2010.
The punishment for such offences to be determined by the UGC on the basis of allegation of such offence by a teacher or employee. The punishment for deliberate violation of such rules is either of five years of imprisonment or fine up to one million taka or both as per section 49 of the PUA, 2010.
The victim teachers or staffs are also eligible to get compensation from the serving universities if proved in the eye of law.
Moreover, government has increased maternity leave for the female employees of the government service holder for six month but in many private universities the same leave are practiced for three months only. It is worth mentioning that one private university made six months maternity leave even before the government’s enhancement of the maternity leave from four months to six months.
Moreover, the same university has a paternity leave for seven days. In most of the universities there are leave rules but in most cases leave cannot be demanded as a matter of right rather as a matter of grace.
A few numbers of private universities are providing provident fund, earned leave and gratuity facilities except pension for teachers and employees while majority of them are running without these provisions.
There is a private university which pays salary of one month in the third week of another month creating dissatisfaction among the teachers and employees.
UGC has introduced a Uniform Grading Scheme, for the preparation of results, to be followed by all the public and private universities in Bangladesh from the session 2006-2007, but some private universities are still not following this rather following North American Grading System.
Some private universities are propagating to the faculties to be oriented and inspired by the letter of US President Abrham Lincoln to his son’s teacher. He said, “Teach him if you can that 10 cents earned is of far more value than a dollar found.” Probably teachers and employees are getting some sort of solace by this quote of Lincoln and but how many days they may be stick to it without motivation to work.
Frequent changing of teachers is a common concern for all private universities and most of the private universities are heavily dependent on lecturers rather than Assistant Professors, Associate Professors and Professors for saving large amount of money.
Quote and quote private university authorities are introducing North American concept of publish or perish regarding research activities among the faculties, reminding them university teachers are to be involved in three functions viz. research, services and teaching.
Teachers are also categorized as teachers by choice and teachers by default. These speeches seem sweet but do not work as such because teachers are overburdened with heavy work load.
In most cases VCs, Pro VCs, Treasurers, and Registrars are very loyal to the chairman or members of the board of trustees because they are responsible to the board of trustees for their activities in line with the sections 31, 32, 33 and 34 respectively of this Act.
In fact, persons holding these posts are powerless because most of these high ups are of retired from their services and passing their leisure time in the name of services. So, they cannot raise or show interest to raise any issue of promotion or increment to the board of trustees fearing dismissal from the services.
The incumbent government is on the last stage to form a national, autonomous and independent 21 member accreditation council for supervising and monitoring the standard of private universities in accordance with section 38 of this Act. The upcoming accreditation council and UGC must look into these matters on an urgent basis for the betterment of private university, a rapidly developing sector in our country with more than 2,50,000 students along with nearly 20,000 employees, including full-time and part-time teachers, officers and staffs in 54 private universities.
Government has recently approved another eight new private universities among 92 applications for setting up of such institutions.
Notable that the notion of private university in Bangladesh started functioning in early 1993 after the enactment of the Private University Act, 1992. This Act was amended in 1998 and later went inoperable after the military backed caretaker government declared Private University Ordinance, 2008.
Now, the Private University Act, 2010 is the latest but only operable law for the proper functionalities of private universities in Bangladesh.
The writer is a faculty of the department of Law and Justice, Southeast University
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