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Private university enrollment dips


Dec 14, 2008
United States
Private university enrollment dips
Ershad Kamol | Published: 01:01, Nov 07,2020

The enrollment of private university students in the summer semester drastically dropped amid the COVID-19 outbreak as students lost their financial ability to continue education at such universities that usually charge huge amount of tuition fees. Association of Private Universities of Bangladesh data shows that enrolment in this summer semester at the private universities fell by up to 88 per cent compared to the summer semester of 2019.The universities enrolled students on the online summer semester programmes in June taking special permission from the government when all educational institutions remained closed due to COVID-19, private university association officials said.

Private university authorities said that they could not attract students to the programmes even after giving waivers in both admission and tuition fees.

They said that the fall in enrollment came as a threat to the existence of many newly established private universities, for which they reduced costs by cutting salaries or jobs of teachers and employees. ‘More or less, all private universities endured losses amid COVID-19 as the number of students fell. The newly established universities, which have low investment, are struggling for survival,’ APUB president Sheikh Kabir Hossain told New Age on Wednesday. He said that the association in July sought from all the 105 private universities the number of their enrollment in the last summer semester with the same figures for 2019 and 2018 to make a comparison to assess the impact of COVID-19 on them.

‘Students mostly from middle-class families did not show much interest to enroll at the universities. And the students who used to continue education with own income were found not at all interested,’ he explained, evaluating the data sent to the association by 25 private universities. The data shows that the number of enrollment at BGMEA University of Fashion and Technology dropped by 88 per cent. It had 623 students in the summer of 2018, 741 in 2019 and just 82 in the last summer.
Prime University’s enrollment dipped by 77 per cent as only 76 students enrolled in the last summer semester while the figure was 332 in the summer of 2019, according to APUB data.

Daffodil International University director Syed Mizanur Rahman Raju said that many universities like theirs reduced the seat capacity in the last semester as they had to terminate teachers who were not able to conduct online classes. He said that Daffodil University enrolled 1,088 students in the summer semester of 2020 while the number was 1,760 in the summer of 2019. Uttara University deputy registrar Premananda Chakroboty said that they could not attract students even after giving waivers in admission and tuition fees. ‘That’s why we had to curtail our operations cost,’ he said.

A finance student of a private university, Md Yamin, said that he did not enrol in the online-based summer semester as he did not find any logic for bearing such expense for online lectures. ‘Attending some pending classes of the spring semester, I found those not worthy of buying as teachers delivered lectures from notebooks or wrote them on whiteboards,’ said self-financed student Yamin who earned money as a private tutor. He said that he could not earn anymore as parents of his students discouraged private tuition amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Bangladesh Private University Faculty Forum convenor Mohammad Fakhrul Islam said that most of the private universities curtailed salaries of their teachers while many of them terminated a huge number of teachers amid the outbreak. ‘The jobless teachers are now struggling for survival,’ he said. APUB president Sheikh Kabir admitted that the private universities had no other options but to cut salaries or jobs of teachers and employees like other sectors did amid the outbreak. Kabir, also chairman of Fareast International University, demanded a government policy and financial support to continue the operations of the private universities.

‘Private University Act-2010 should be amended to allow the private universities to operate as commercial ventures instead of non-profit establishments so that they can attract big investors,’ Kabir said. University Grants Commission chairman Kazi Shahidullah suggested that the private universities should place their demands to the commission in writing. ‘We also know that they are struggling due to the fall in enrolment. We may allow them to take loan from the interest accrued on their deposited money for paying salaries of the teachers and employees,’ he said.


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