Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, April 27, 2006


By Adnan M. S. Fakir

Dhaka is saturated with universities, schools, coaching centers, GED centers and what not other tuition houses. You would expect, Dhaka students to be super-smart and start making up Microsofts and Oracles. However that hasn't happened. And you know why?

That's because majority of the coaching centers and universities are appalling… are terrible… and worst of all they have no one to tell them they are terrible. And that's why we need a ranking system…to bash the terrible ones, and praise the good ones.

The US & Canada has a pretty comprehensive ranking system- where they evaluate a University's academic strength and weakness and put them into rankings. In fact, they have a variety of rankings. For example, they have rankings on the “most value for money”, “selectivity”, “acceptance rate” to the most bizarre the “loudest frat parties”! They even have ratings for the “hottest guys' n gals' (of which Yale wins)”. Now that's detail!

Ok, unfortunately in Bangladesh we do not have that much diversity, but what we can have is of course, a ranking system based on “Highest academic value”, “Highest proportion of graduates getting jobs in first year of graduation”, “Highest number of faculty with Ph.D”, “Most popular majors” and etc. Since, the public universities aren't expensive, there could be another ranking devised for the “Best Value for Money', perhaps something on “Most Internationally Accredited”- which measures the credit transferability of the University Credits and its affiliations with foreign universities.

We could also have a crazy- “least politically active” ranking- which could be mighty useful both for rising cadres and the normal people out there who wants to stay away from politics. But first, we need a basic ranking system that will rank all the universities in an overall stature.

So what's good with this stuff?
Firstly it gives the students a very good perspective on the mechanism of choosing University. In Bangladesh too much emphasis is put on names. Of-course Dhaka University is the ultimate hub of knowledge but do not under-estimate the rising ones like BRAC University which has an excellent Architecture department.

The problem is, very few people actually know that. Ok, ok we have advertisements promoting “Cambrian Colleges” and everything… but believe it or not, they are incredibly shady. However, if we have an independent and respectable body conducting research it would give the university review more weight, substance as well as authenticity. For example, if a university claims - “we provide the best BBA DEGREE!” no one's going believe it. But if we have some organization saying that so and so university provides the best BBA degree, people will take it seriously.

Not only for universities, there should be a ranking system for the many colleges also, one separately putting the English and Bengali medium colleges, and another putting both English and Bengali medium ones, based on a same scale. Diversity in college and university life is very important, to be involved in many different activities, not just in studies.

This helps mature a student more and be more active in society. After all, practical life and studies are not the same. There might even be a ranking for the “Most Diverse College/University” or “Best Cricket Team”.

This will certainly help future students distinguish the colleges or universities according to their priorities.

Having an authorized ranking system also puts more competition among universities as each university will then emphasize more on actually improving their standard of education.

After all, we Bengalis have very challenging attitudes the challenge to get to the top of the rank will certainly cause some improvement. Although, it has to be properly made sure that the ranking committee does not get biased or corrupted. Pessimistically, who knows, we might have to keep another committee just to ensure that!

Where to get Info?
The emergence of private universities in Bangladesh began with the enactment of a series of laws governing higher education in 1992. To fulfill the ever-growing demand of institutions for higher studies, at present there are around 73 universities in Bangladesh; only 21 of those are in the public sector and 52 of those are private universities (as of March 2004). For some, when choosing a university in Bangladesh we have very few names in mind. Nonetheless, there are many who want proper information about specific universities when applying. In the US, with over 3,000 universities the application process is a very grueling one unlike in Bangladesh.

Many of the universities in Bangladesh recently have their own websites… you can check out at http://www.ugc.org/ university_list.htm or http://www. Isrt.ac.bd/resources/universities/ for a list of the universities and their respective sites online; some of the websites are pretty neat.

Wrapping it Up
Although with the saturation of educational centers, the quality in some schools and universities have seriously deteriorated, some are actually improving with leaps.

The ranking system will be the key to figuring out the good ones and the terrible ones; this will certainly be a big help for all students and the good and improving institutions in standing out. Hopefully, someone will spot this article and take some steps into implementing this. For now, adieu!


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