VARSITY BLUES REVEALED
Shamma M. Ragib
When I was in grade 11, I used to look forward to University life as being the 'golden years'. I used to dream of spending time with my friends in an open campus, chatting away without a care in the world. I hated the fact that my school was this small five-storied building with no playing ground or enough space to breathe in the corridors. For me, playing grounds at that time were in the 'garage', where the higher authorities set up a few carom boards and a modified cheap table-tennis area.
Alas! After two more years, when I thought I would get a respite from the 'flat-bari', I enter the private University premises where the cars would almost ride over you! THIS was just the beginning of my four years of misery. Unfortunately the private universities are pretty much all the same. The students have many complaints, lack of space being the prime concern. To get an insight into the 'private university-phobia' syndrome, I asked a few of the University students and a few professors themselves.
According to some students of Stamford University, the university has no premises at all. One of its campuses is situated right beside a hospital on the main road, and the parking facilities are almost always not available because the hospital ambulance and hospital visitor's cars take up most of the space! The City University in Banani is not far behind… it is just a single storied building! It is the same for Daffodil University, IBAIS buildings! North South is just a little ahead of them with three. Universities like Brac offer a decent clean building but have the same parking problems. The premises of East West University are in a worse condition due to the constructions going on all around them. I felt pity watching the guys of EWU sitting casually on a dust filled staircase of the neighbouring construction site!
When inquiring about the quality of students in some of the universities, this particular individual Shihab (with the Stamford ID) said, "Unfortunately, the university accepts below-standard students along with the good ones. The authorities may refute this saying, 'If we don't accept the poor ones, where would they go?' …
I say the failed students should shun the idea of applying to any University before they get the standardised scores and grades!" Mouri, a student of The University of Asia Pacific has to deal with worse, "Some of them crack 'zokes' which apparently nobody except for they themselves can decipher!" Sabrina comes across with no different kind of students, "Some of the students' thinking ability is so low that it makes you wonder how they even passed the admission test. Once this guy asked me, 'Aissah, oi sir da roza rakheyna kyaa? Uni ki Muslim?' and I said, 'Yeah apparently, since his last name is Islam.' …The guy whined, 'Tailey uni roza rahen na ken?' I couldn't help but laugh…"
It is the same case with other Universities like East West, North South, South East (don't worry… the North West University campus proper, is yet to be built) and others like City University and IUB! According to some of the concerned senior students there, like a fourth year student Ronny, "These universities accept any student who sits for the admission test and pays the required amount of admission fees!" It is a pity that the private universities are not really looking forward to encouraging competitiveness in their education system. A particular senior part-time professor teaching Pharmacy in Stamford said, " The student's capacity is so poor that some of them don't even know the names of the common chemistry compounds which they are supposed to learn in high-school! The formula for water is something even the commerce student is supposed to know!"
Speaking about water, the university premises are usually drowned during rainy days! The potholes and drains on the roads of East West University and AIUB campuses simply make life miserable for the students like Shafiq who sarcastically said, "Splashing in rainwater is fun…but not in stinking drain water! We know the roads are not the University concerns…but the safety of the student is…so why not work out on a decent road at least?" A concerned student of NSU points out, "We can't travel in between our two buildings when it is raining…the stinky water is ankle deep in front of the main door, and the officials do not even arrange for a temporary solution by placing bricks on the roads. At least then we can cross the road to the other buildings and not miss our classes!"
Not only that, once the university had severe water crisis, and nothing was done as an immediate resolution! Students could not even use the toilets even though their bladders were bursting…while others had to use their last resort of drinking water! I just pray they didn't use the same bottle to drink from later on! What? No, seriously, given some of the students' 'intellectual' capabilities, anything is possible.
The United International University recently opened a new campus on the Satmasjid road. It is undoubtedly large and has good architecture, but not large enough to be called a University. The students here complain that if only they had a transport service, their life would have been a hell lot easier. It is pathetic and painful when students like Fauzia (Newcastle Law Academy student), miss their Iftaar due to long lines in the bus stands. "Sometimes, we have to go all the way home to Banani, standing and holding the railings for the whole hour! The traffic situation makes it worse! At least small Colleges like Shanto Marium Inst. Of Tech. have transport services for their students!" The same dilemma goes for other top private universities like NSU, State University of Bangladesh, AIUB and most of the others. "They can spend tons in paying for advertisements and unnecessary campus development, but they cannot spend a few grants for student transport!" reveals one of the AIUB students.
Private universities nowadays open up new subjects like Electronics and Communications Engineering without even assigning proper professors for them! Undoubtedly, whomever the universities hire are all well learned people…but it is ridiculous when a Computer professor comes to teach Electronics in a class! Universities now are in a current 'new subject' boom just to attract people to their universities. "Where are we actually going to by doing this?" says Mrs Ansari, a concerned parent, "The universities may open up any subject. But unless our children are taught properly in class by proper able subject professors, they would end up being embarrassed later on in life when they would not be able to discuss a simple thing!"
University blues unfortunately do not end here…they also include ridiculously high tuition fees and also unnecessary new campus development fees paid by third/fourth year students who would not even utilise the new campus! The university authorities should look into minute matters, which concern the suffering students and work out on a better solution.
Universities should have teacher and student evaluation system where they can monitor the students' and teacher's capability and reputation. "This could be something where the students evaluate the university professors and the professors evaluate carefully the student's progress. This is widely practised standard universities abroad and should be followed here" marks a concerned professor.
Good education does NOT round up a good university only. A good university is one, which overcomes the problems of their students as well as the professors. I hope the university authorities would look into these.
The names of the concerned students are changed to protect privacy. However the university names remain the same so that they can actually try and resolve the issues discussed here. Rising Stars and the writer would not be responsible for any negative reputation caused to these universities. After all it is called 'free press' and we honour that! Any comments should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also we would like to hear the universities perspective as well.