Not only has the university breached the Private University Act 2010, it also started its academic activities more than a year before getting approval from the UGC
The Times University, Bangladesh – an institution of higher education located in Faridpur district – has only 10 teachers, and just two of its five departments are active.
The university has 255 students and six officials, and lacks a permanent campus. The institution conducts its academic activities out of a rented building in West Khabashpur area.
On a more interesting note, Professor Dr AHM Aktarul Islam, the vice-chancellor of the university, is also the chairman of a department. Times University might very well be the smallest university in the world.
According to the 45th annual report of the University Grants Commission of Bangladesh (UGC), the Times University did not hold any meetings of the Board of Trustees, Syndicate, Academic Council and Finance Committee in 2018.
Furthermore, the institution never sent any audit reports to the UGC since its establishment in 2013.
Not only has the university been blatantly breaching the Private University Act 2010, it also started its academic activities before getting UGC approval. The commission gave the Times University permission to run academic activities on November 25, 2015, but it started admitting students from January 2014.
Recently, students of its law department, who passed the LLB course, did not get permission to apply for the Supreme Court Bar Council membership because they got admitted to the institution before it was approved.
Their certificates have been rendered useless.
Professor Alauddin Mollah, registrar of the university, told The Business Standard, "The institution temporarily suspended all academic activities a few months ago, after students protested when they failed to apply for the bar council membership.
"It was our mistake that we started academic activities before getting approval from the UGC. Hopefully, we will resume the academic activities soon."
The university recently filed a writ petition with the High Court for resolving the issue.
When asked about the very low number of teachers at the institution, Professor Alauddin said, "The administration has plans to make the university a world class institution. Everything will be okay, but we need more time."
An official of the university, on condition of anonymity, said that the institution rented a 10-storey building, but used only two floors with a maximum 6,000-square-foot of space.
The latest annual UGC report shows that the university has four faculties and five departments. As per the law, a university must have a minimum of three faculties and six departments.
A student of the institution, preferring to remain anonymous, said, "A university should have a good campus, standard number of students, teachers and other world class facilities. But at Times University, we are getting nothing.
"Our university is more similar to a kindergarten. We are actually being deprived of getting higher education here. I do not know how the university got approval to run its academic activities."
According to the Private University Act, a pro-vice-chancellor and a treasurer is a must for any university, but both positions have remained vacant at Times University since its journey.
When the UGC approves a private university to run its academic activities in a rented building, the commission asks that university to move to a permanent campus within the next seven years.
But Times University did not move to a permanent campus, and the administration is yet to buy any land for this purpose. Surprisingly, neither the education ministry nor the UGC have taken any action against this university.
Dr Fakhrul Islam, director of private university division of the UGC, said, "The UGC has no power to take action against any university. We can only recommend the education ministry to take such initiatives.
"Actually, I do not clearly know about Times University."
Md Abdullah Al Hasan Chowdhury, additional secretary (Secondary and Higher Education Division) of the education ministry, pointed out that they would take action if the university became unable to conduct its academic activities as per the law.
"We are determined to ensure quality higher education. We will never encourage substandard education in the country."
The Business Standard made repeated attempts to call the university's Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr AHM Aktarul Islam on phone, but he could not be reached.
Expressing his astonishment over the matter, academician Professor Syed Moonjurul Islam said, "We cannot designate such institution as a university. The institution is just tarnishing the image of the country's higher education sector.
"The government should take action against the university and shut it down as soon as possible."