Vol. 5 Num 558 Wed. December 21, 2005  
Front Page

Pvt universities exact way too high charges
Students suffer as no fee framework exists

In the absence of a regulatory framework, the private universities are exacting extremely high charges, making it especially difficult for the middle and lower-middle class students to continue their studies.

North South University (NSU), the first private university of the country established in 1993, at present charges each student Tk 48,000 as tuition fee per semester for 12 credits and Tk 2,000 as lab and student activity fees. The amount is the result of two hikes -- one in 1998 and then in 2003.

The university is now constructing a new campus at Baridhara for which it is charging an extra "campus development fee" of Tk 3,500 from every student in every semester.

It takes an NSU student at least eight semesters (4 years) to complete his courses.

A number of NSU students, mostly from middle class families with limited income, complained that it has now become very hard for them to continue their studies because of these extra fees and that many of them have to share the expenses by doing part-time jobs.

The total fee for a semester at the American International University Bangladesh (AIUB) is Tk 50,750, which is Tk 44,600 at the Independent University Bangladesh (IUB), Tk 44,000 at the Brac University and Tk 33,200 at the East West University.

The AIUB increased its fees from Tk 2,000 to Tk 2,100 per credit in 1998 and again to Tk 2,600 in 2001. It also increased its "miscellaneous fees" from Tk 800 to Tk 1,000 in 2001.

The East West University, however, reduced its fees from Tk 2,600 to Tk 2,000 per credit in economics and English in 2004, considering the competition.

On the other hand, Asian University of Bangladesh charges Tk 10,000-25,000 per semester, depending on the subjects and number of credits in its four-year graduate programmes. For example, for a Bachelor of Science in computer science and engineering, the university charges Tk 22,300 while for a Bachelor of Arts in English it charges Tk 9,900.

The per-semester fees for 12 credits in Southeast University range between Tk 24,200 and Tk 12,000, depending on the subjects.

On charging extra fees to the students for the new campus building, Dr Hafiz GA Siddiqi, vice-chancellor (VC) of NSU, said 60-70 percent of students will not have any problem in paying the amount. "The rule should not be different for the other students," he said.

A new building is necessary and so it should be built, Siddiqi said, adding, "If it is really a problem for some students, I will request the governing body to consider their cases."

On the uniformity of the students' fees in the private universities, Dr Siddiqi said it is not possible in the "era of free economy".

Dr Shamsher Ali, VC of Southeast University, however, thinks that there must be a framework for standard fees considering the socioeconomic context of the students.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman Prof Asaduzzaman said he was in favour of uniformity in the fees. He discussed the matter with the VCs of some leading private universities last year but they did not agree to the proposal, referring to the free trade economy, he said.

"Some universities that charge higher fees, however, provide better education, while the standard is very poor with some other universities that charge low fees," he said.

This difference of fees must be minimised by fixing a standard structure and the standard of education in the private universities should be heightened through strong monitoring, he said.

Eminent educationist Prof Muzaffer Ahmed said, "Neither the private universities that charge less fees nor those that charge more have the vision to actually educate the nation. Their target is making money."

A body comprising education experts rather than just politically aligned people or businessmen should be formulated on an urgent basis for proper monitoring of the whole education system of the country, he added.

"The sources of the money paid by the [private university] students, who are ready to pay any amount of fees, are also questionable," the VC of a university said, requesting anonymity.