Professor Atiqul Islam became the Vice-Chancellor of North South University (NSU) in February this year. Before joining NSU he was the Pro Vice-Chancellor of Edith Cowan University in Australia.Earlier he served as the Dean of the Faculty of Business and Government at the University of Canberra. Over his long academic career, he served at the University of Sydney, NSW, Curtin University, University of Canterbury and the National University of Singapore. Many articles written by Professor Islam were published in different national and international journals. Recently he has given an interview to daily sun “University Special”, where he has outlined his vision, funding, recruitment of teachers and shared how the university plans to contribute to higher education sector of Bangladesh.
Often we hear about the high tuition fees at NSU. What will you tell about it?
“At NSU we provide state of the art facilities and international standard faculty. If we look at the top universities in other countries, we can see that it is really expensive to study at high ranking universities. However, at NSU, there are some courses which one can study by paying at a much lower fee than other universities in Dhaka. As we provide students with top facilities in every way, the education expenses may seem high to some but we regularly give scholarships to meritorious students to help students with financial difficulties. Each year we offer huge amount of scholarships so that the students can pursue their higher education at NSU.”
What is your suggestion to choose subjects for higher education?
“When it comes to subject selection the choice should be left to the students. Guardians should not impose their decision upon the students or force them to study a certain discipline. Often students select a discipline to please their guardians but in the end nothing good comes out of it. For example if someone does not have any interest in engineering then he/she can never do well in that subject and in the end that student suffers his/her whole life for making a wrong choice. So when it comes to selecting a discipline at universities, students should go for the subjects in which they have interest. Parents and teachers must come forward to suggest a student during the selection of his/her subject. In short, a student should choose a subject based on his interest and market demand of the subject. It is always important to choose a good institution as well.”
Tell us about the importance of having career awareness...
“Many students of our country do not plan their career. A student may choose a discipline because of its good job demand. However, by the time he completes graduation, the job demand of the respective discipline may go down. To avert such situation, educational institutions should provide career advice to the students from an early age. Career advice can help the students become aware about his/her interests. It can also help a student realize his strengths and weaknesses.”
How NSU helps its students when it comes to career choice and employment?
“At NSU we have a very strong career service centre. It helps our students to seek employment. Students seeking jobs can register with the career service centre. Employers contact with us regularly seeking suitable candidates. The career service centre forwards the mails to the registered students as per their job queries. So in this way we arrange for their employment. We also conduct regular job fairs to ensure employment of the students. We have a 100% student employment rate.”
Tell us about the mission of NSU?
“The mission of North South University is to produce competent graduates in their selected disciplines who will have productive careers or choose to engage in advanced studies. NSU aims are creating life-long learners with good leadership skills, more proficient in oral, written and electronic communication, critical thinkers with well-developed analytical skills, ethical and socially responsible, champions of diversity and tolerance, globally aware with commitment to social justice and sustainability. I think we are succeeding in our mission. When I visited Johns Hopkins University, I came across two Bangladeshi female rising researchers, both of whom are graduates of NSU. It is indeed a sign that our graduates are doing very well. In fact they are serving the world.”
Does NSU have any plan to develop its own research programmes?
“Any research work requires huge amount of funding. NSU is looking forward to start research. We have plans to pursue research on health sciences. We will look into the tropical diseases which are prevalent in our country. We have very good understanding with NASA and Johns Hopkins University. I am optimistic that if foreigners come to Bangladesh, we will be able to attract huge amount of funding for research in future.”
Tell us about the future plans of NSU...
Currently NSU is an incredibly successful institution. The university is well-known internationally. We are well managed and have lot of resources financially. NSU is the best university considering academic expertise in Bangladesh. We are therefore very well placed to withstand the challenges that are coming to us. In future I wish to increase the number of research works. The real challenges we are going to face are academic: ensuring that we continue to attract the best and brightest students and academics for the future. We want to give our staffs the time they need, space and opportunities to pursue educational goals and research. I want to see NSU as a ‘go-forward’ institution. In future we hope to acquire permission to offer international standard PHD degrees. We want to be among the top 300 universities of Asia.