For some consecutive days in May 2009, students of two Dhaka-based private universities demonstrated on the streets of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, against the administrations of their respective universities. They alleged administrative mismanagement and lack of adequate educational facilities, as well as “exorbitant” tuition fees. The students’ dissatisfaction was from a shared opinion amongst them that they did not receive educational and other facilities as “promised” during their admission. The tide of demonstrations stemmed within a few days only after the administrations of these two universities reached some agreements with the students regarding resolving the contentious issues. Meanwhile newspapers ran front-page headlines and the simmering debate regarding public university versus private university education flared up in the forefront of public discussions.
The true growth of an economy depends on the development of a nation and its citizens as human resources and higher education plays an inevitable role in such context. Bangladesh is also not an exception to this. At present there are more than 52 private universities in the country. Therefore, now what matters in this connection is not the number but the quality. A good university must ensure quality education for its students. But to be an international standard institution of higher education it is not an easy job for a university. In our country within 52 private universities many of them is such a university that has already established itself as a leading private university in Bangladesh with international reputation for excellence. In a decade, it has achieved excellence in education in different disciplines through its dynamic and effective academic leadership. Due to stiff competition in the education sector in Bangladesh, private universities need to prove their quality and should develop constructive and effective marketing programs and strategies for the purpose of survival as well as expansion.
Bangladesh inherited 6 public universities at the time of independence in 1971. The first public university was Dhaka University, established by the British in 1921 on the Oxbridge model. A further 5 universities were established in the 1950's and 1960's. In the late 1970’s, the tertiary sector faced a range of problems, such as campus violence, session-jam (whereby a three-year Honors’ degree course took an extra two to three years to complete), and low quality teaching. The public sector was also unable to cope with demand, and by 1992 there were still only 8 public sector universities, researchers found that only able to accommodate around 25% of the more or less 80,000 students who applied for admission.
The idea of allowing the private sector to establish universities was first discussed in 1981, although this was stalled by a military coup in May of that year. This idea was revisited in 1992 when the government enacted a series of laws related to higher education, including the Private Universities Act that allowed the establishment of private higher education institutions. Between 1992 and 1996, 16 PHEIs were established during a rapid expansion of the tertiary sector, although the rate of approval of charters slowed between 1996 and 2001. When the new government was installed in October 2001, the approval of charters gained momentum, and by the end of 2001 the number of private universities in Bangladesh stood at 29 (although recent information suggests that there may now be as many as 56 private universities operating in Bangladesh).
Private universities came into existence in Bangladesh following the enactment of the Private University Act of 1992 (amended in 1998). The UGC is the apex and statutory body of the universities of Bangladesh including the private universities. The primary objectives of instituting the UGC were to promote and coordinate university education; monitor, and maintain standard of...