A unified recruitment and promotion policy drafted by the University Grants Commission of Bangladesh (UGC) is facing opposition from public universities.
UGC Chairman Dr Kazi Shahidullah said the Unified Teacher Recruitment and Promotion Policy will be submitted to the Ministry of Education soon.
A meeting is scheduled at the education ministry tomorrow to discuss the policy.
However, public university teachers claimed although the ministry had asked the UGC to formulate the policy after consulting with all stakeholders, the commission had approached nobody.
Teachers’ association leaders fear this policy will harm the autonomy of their institutions.
Speaking to The Business Standard, Dhaka University (DU) Vice Chancellor Prof Akhtaruzzaman said he had not been informed of or invited to any meetings held by the UGC, adding: “This is a big task. Every public university has their own rules. The ministry or UGC must talk with us and take recommendations before drafting up a policy.”
The DU vice chancellor (VC) further said they too supported reforms and will follow the new policy provided that it is not contradictory with DU’s regulations.
Jahangirnagar University VC Prof Farzana Islam said that the university authorities deserve a formal invitation from the ministry or the UGC. “It is also very important to inform us if they want to change or reform any rules of our institution,” she said.
She refused to comment on the policy since she had not been informed about it.
However, the UGC Chairman claimed that they had invited all the VCs and teachers’ leaders to take part in the policy making meetings.
“We have spoken to all the vice chancellors in this regard and they have given us their consent to formulate it,” claimed UGC Chairman Shahidullah.
A history of opposition to UGC intervention
In 2007, Prof Nazrul Islam, former UGC chairman, initiated the policy draft. Nazrul had then said he had failed to make any progress as public university vice chancellors and teachers' associations were against it.
"Now it's too late to introduce the policy," commented Nazrul.
However, Yousuf Ali Molla, former acting chairman of the UGC and also the first convener of the policymaking committee praised the UGC for its “consistency” regarding the matter.
The Unified Teacher Recruitment and Promotion Policy originally came to discussion after massive irregularities regarding appointment of teachers in public universities came to light.
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) found more teachers being hired than the number of posts advertised, recruitment of less qualified candidates, and promotion of teachers even though they did not meet the required criteria.
"Unauthorised financial transactions have been one of the key catalysts in the recruitment of lecturers at eight public universities, leading to irregularities and corruption," stated a 2016 report by TIB.
The report found political leanings, nepotism, and religious and regional leanings as the major factors in the appointment of lecturers.
Yet opposition to UGC’s intervention still continues.
Most recently, on September 5 this year, the Bangladesh University Teachers’ Forum (BUTF) formed a human chain at the base DU’s Raju Memorial Sculpture, protesting UGC’s policy.
The previous day, a group of Islamic University teachers formed a human chain on the campus demanding cancellation of the proposal. The teachers said UGC should not force autonomous public universities to operate under a uniform policy.
Last month, a total of 1,002 public university teachers across Bangladesh expressed their concern over the bureaucratic move for formulating a uniform policy on recruitment and promotion at public universities.
BUTF Convener, DU Professor Kamrul Hassan Mamun, said: "Those who want to impose a uniform policy have no idea about the university rules and regulations. All the universities have separate syndicates, like the parliament of a country. All decisions are made from these syndicate meetings.”
Although 49 public universities currently follow their respective regulations, the unified policy – once passed – will dictate the recruitment and promotion process of all public universities.