The paper examines selected issues of access, equity and efficiency, both internal and external, of higher education as imparted in degree colleges and universities of Bangladesh, and makes certain policy recommendations. Degree colleges that account for the lion’s share of enrolment at the level of higher education in Bangladesh suffer from inadequate infra-structural facilities (libraries and laboratories), and lack of qualified teachers. The poor pass percentage and high incidence of unemployment amongst the graduates indicate to low levels of internal and external efficiency respectively. Because of limited number of seats in public universities, and high tuition fees charged by the private universities, access to university education is rather limited in Bangladesh. Private universities with inadequate full time faculty members depend heavily on part- time teachers drawn primarily from public universities, which adversely affect quality of education in those universities. With a few notable exceptions, most private universities impart education of uncertain quality, and high tuition fees charged by such institutions make them accessible only to the affluent sections in the society. Public universities, primarily dependent on limited government funding shrinking in real terms, unable to generate additional resources by raising tuition fees due to political constraints, are hardly in a position to improve their quality of education through greater investment in libraries and laboratories. Many democratic provisions of the University Acts not only encroach upon the limited teaching time of the faculty members by engaging them in active politics, but also fail to ensure accountability of the teachers, that contribute to lengthening of session jams, quite often accentuated by unscheduled closures of universities due to violent inter and intra-party clashes of student fronts of major political parties. Moreover, as it happens quite often, ‘voters’, not ‘teachers’ are recruited that adversely affect the quality of university education. As there hardly exists any linkage between public universities on the one hand, and employers and the job market on the other, many university graduates, produced at considerable cost to the society, have to remain unemployed for a considerable period of time before they find employment often in areas outside their fields of study. Private universities on the other hand remain confined only to a few disciplines that have high market demand. The paper concludes with a few policy recommendations for improving equitable access to, and efficiency, both internal and external, of higher education in Bangladesh.
|Keywords:||Higher Education, Bangladesh|
Adjunct Professor, Department of Economics, Towson University, Towson, Maryland, USA
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