The private universities are facing various problemsin regard to holding online classes and examinations amid the on-going closure of all educational institutions due to coronavirus pandemic.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) recently allowed all the private universities to hold online classes and exams although it has not issued guidelines in this regard until now.
On the other hand, a group of students has opened a group on Facebook to protest the idea while some other students formed human chain in the streets to oppose it.
Last Thursday, Education Minister Dipu Moni instructed the private university authorities to continue their online education.
Since then, a section of students have been accused of trying to destabilize the situation by using various social media in the name of boycotting all kinds of classes, exams and admissions.
Various university authorities fear that such provocations could lead to confusion among the private university students. They see the conspiracy behind it.
It has been seen that some students are trying to take the situation in a different direction by opening a group account on Facebook under the banner of Besorkari Bissobiddaloy Chatra Oyikko (Private University Student Unity).
According to these students, online classes are a trap for taking semester fees. Varsities are forcing students to take classes and exams by showing retakes and other intimidation so that the semester fee can be collected at a later time.
According to a written statement of Nazifa Jannat, member of the group, “All types of employed people are out of work due to the lockdown. Their financial situation is very bad. Where there is no guarantee of two times meal in a day at home, classes with a minimum of Tk 100 per day are nothing but a luxury.”
Most of the university students have left the city and staying in rural and remote areas. Taking online classes there is an unimaginable thought due to poor network. And those who are able to participate in any way,they don’t understand anything from these class, said a number of students who oppose the idea of online classes.
Another student explained, “The current situation proves the decision to continue the class without considering the difficulties of the students and not to waive the semester fees. Private universities have become business entities. So we, the general students, called for boycotting of all online classes and exams from today.”
The students also complained that many universities were pressuring them to pay tuition fees by disregarding the UGC guidelines.
The students further demanded that one semester tuition fee of all private universities should be waived, salaries of teachers and staff should not be deducted and scholarships should be provided to prevent any student from dropping out duringcoronavirus pandemic.
Vice chancellors of private universities said that if no one pays the tuition fee, then where will the salary of the university employees be paid? The government has not yet given any incentive or financial assistance in this regard.
The vice-chancellor of East West University told Bangladesh Post, “Students have been requested to pay tuition fees as per their means so that no one is deprived of their salaries. To reduce the risk of session jam, educational activities have been taken online.”
Several vice-chancellors of private universities said that the UGC survey revealed that 70 percent of students were taking classes online. Prior to the UGC ban, the rate was 80 to 90 percent in most cases.
They said that if the government provides special high-speed internet packages to the students at nominal costs, then 100% participation can be ensured.
On Monday, some students formed a human chain protesting online classes at private university at Shahbagh in the capital under the banner of Bangladesh Chatra Union.
MehediHasan Nobel, president of the central committee of the Bangladesh Chatra Union, said, “The administration of private universities are pressuring students to pay semester fees in the name of online exams. If the current economic situation in Bangladesh puts pressure on semester fees, students from middle and lower middle class families who are studying in private universities will probably start dropping out of educationenmass.”
In this regard, Sheikh Kabir Hossain, chairman of the Private University Association, said, “We are continuing discussions with UGC on all these issues. We are hopeful that a very sensitive guideline will come from UGC. So those who are spreading confusion on social media about these issues, they do not want the best for the students, or they have some other purpose.”