POST TIME: 26 January, 2020 08:53:30 AM
New evening courses being opened at RU ignoring UGC directive
Jahidul Islam, RU

New evening courses being opened at RU ignoring UGC directive

The authorities of Rajshahi University (RU) have opened evening courses at several departments and institutions, ignoring a recently issued directive of the University Grant Commission (UGC) and criticism by President Abdul Hamid. Some of the departments are opening evening courses for the first time to offer one and two-year programmes.  The English Department is continuing its evening course and has issued a notification regarding the Master of Arts degree and certificate courses admission test on the university's website.

On November 12, the academic committee of the Bangla department decided to open a new course and will begin their work according to the decision.  On January 14, around nine departments of the Social Science Faculty issued a changed circular to enroll students in evening courses. Six departments of the Business Faculty have been continuing such courses since 2014. The newly opened tourism and hospitality department also opened an evening course this January. Besides, a good number of departments are preparing notifications concerning the issue.

Prof Fakrul Islam, dean of the Social Science Faculty, said, "As we didn't get any specific directive from the RU authorities, we allowed opening of the course. Moreover, the academic committee of the department decided the matter six months back.' Students alleged the authorities introduced the evening courses just for financial benefits of teachers.  They termed the evening courses “business-oriented programmes". They urged the authorities to cancel the courses.  On February 2, 2014, hundreds of RU students demonstrated in front of the administration building and residence of the RU vice-chancellor, protesting against increase in admission and other monthly fees and introduction of evening courses for MBA, saying those initiatives were against the interest of students.

Over 100 students and eight journalists were injured when some armed Bangladesh Chhatra League activists, backed by the police, allegedly attacked them. The following day, the university authorities, police, and the BCL filed six cases with Motihar police station, accusing more than 750 general students. Later, the police pressed charges under the Explosives Act against 34 students. On September 3, 2019, the court acquitted them of the charges. On December 9 last year, President M Abdul Hamid criticised such courses at the convocation programme of Dhaka University, saying that commercial courses are turning public universities into business institutions disrupting the campus atmosphere.

Following his remark, and noting that conducting evening courses tarnishes the reputation of public universities, the UGC ordered closure of such courses at all public universities. It came up with the order in a 13-point letter sent to all the public universities on December 11, about properly following rules and regulations in higher educational institutions.  On December 24, the RU formed an eleven-member committee, headed by pro vice-chancellor Prof Ananda Kumar Saha, to consider whether the university would continue its evening courses.

Sources said January 15 this year, an admission notification of evening master’s courses and certificate courses, signed by the Arts Faculty dean, English department chairman, evening MA in English and evening MA in English language teaching chief, was published on the university’s website. The applicants’ eligibility, admission test schedule, pass marks and necessary information were mentioned in that notification.  When asked, the English department chairman, Prof. Abdullah Al Mamun, said, “If the university has taken a decision to close such courses of all departments, we are ready to stop the courses.” However, the university committee has not taken effective steps till now. The RU pro-VC, Prof Ananda Kumar Saha, said, "As the final decision has not been taken to close the evening courses, they have a chance to start such courses. We will call a meeting soon and take a decision as soon as possible."