As many as 52 private universities out of and 20 public universities out of 34 offer engineering education along with business and social science subjects. The programmes offered by public universities are largely utilitarian in nature i.e.they help in obtaining gainful employment just after graduation. These universities keep their doors open for HSC passed and Diploma Engineers. The most liked programme are CSE or its variants followed by EEE, Textile, Architecture and Civil engineering. Taking Public and Private Universities together, hardly 4.57% of the total intakes in the university opt for engineering education. The intakes in business studies are several times higher and is increasing each year. Moreover, there is a decreasing trend of reading science at the SSC and HSC levels and tendency of science students to switch over to utilitarian courses even in business and social science arena. This trend must be arrested with forethought and incentives in order to create reservoir of science students and innovative programmes should be introduced instead of less attractive traditional engineering programme in both the public and private universities.
Students find engineering education not as attractive as before. Even the science students switch over to utilitarian programme in business and social sciences. They and their parents are not interested to invest in science education vis-vis engineering education.
In a seminar the key-note speaker Professor Dr. Engineer Ainun Nishat who has long years of teaching, consultancy and administrative experience gave a vivid description of the entire scenario of engineering education in this country and depicted clearly the achievements and weaknesses of such education. He emphasised the need for social science, accounting and management courses in each branch of engineering. Ultimately, he dealt with the engineering education in the private universities elaborately.
He has criticized many short-comings of the exiting engineering education and identified 4 categories of universities which offer different courses and programmes. They are good, tolerable, bad and fraud. He suggested closing down the fraud universities and even withdrawing the certificates already ‘sold’ without teaching.
The first category of universities charge high fees and the astonishing thing is that, the more they go on increasing the fees, the more students they attract and capture. The sons and daughters of monied people are the customers. They would have gone to have education outside the country had there been no such private universities. They are meritorious too, because under the present social fabric, their parents can afford to spend lot of money for their children which they find to be one of the best grounds of investment. These universities can afford to create infrastructural facilities, establish permanent campus quickly and hire reputed teachers from home and abroad. Even they can put large sum of money for purchasing the services of dignified people of the society whose remarks may be treated with honour and values by the students and their parents. They have gained such dynamism that will enable them to offer quality education. Even then quality is not all in some of them. Their meritorious students even without the care of best teachers make themselves sufficiently educated to get jobs or go abroad. They are normally absorbed in their parents, business who are also sponsors of the university or in the business of their uncles.
The second category of university makes best use of the theory of demand. It is said in economics, other things remaining the same, the lower is the price, the higher is the demand for that product or service. These universities keep the cost substantially lower and can attract large number of students. The potential students in this university are those who do double degrees at the same time, who are employed and need a degree for promotion, who need a degree for climbing the social ladder and who want to increase the acceptability of the product and service of their business by adding further decoration with their present level of academic degrees.
Most of them do not need knowledge nor do they need any efforts for enhancing the quality. Therefore, any effort by any university to make quality education at low cost will fall flat and their effort to attract sufficient number of student to create infrastructural facilities, switch to new campuses will be either frustrated or delayed. They started poor, catered to the needs of so called poor but less meritorious SSC and HSC students. They will remain poor and one fine morning, they will decide to increase the fees and will attract snobbish customers. This means the really power section of the community who wants to change their lot by quality but low cost education shall not find place for them. This category of university received patronization practically from none, the controlling authority too fail to appreciate their efforts to provide low cost but high quality education. In such universities, some dedicated teachers imbued with the spirit of liberation war and a love for down trodden section of the community cannot afford to increase the number of monied sponsors with the apprehension in mind that such an effort will frustrate the ideals and aspirations of original sponsors. At one stage, they many even give up, although they are fighting a rear guarded battle to ensure quality in the process of creation and dissemination of knowledge, teach five days in a week, ensure 75% attendance in the class, conduct un-fair means free examinations. The students who hanker after a degree that is a piece of paper from a recognised university normally look upon such universities with hate and disdain. They will rather encourage their children to obtain quality education because they have an ingrained hatred for themselves for holding a fraud certificate.
These points must be kept in mind while slotting universities into good, bad and tolerable categories. Something must be done do away with the second category of universities which hardly conduct any academic activities otherwise, the society will have to pay a heavy price. The UGC must crackdown on fraud universities and gradually press to ensure infrastructural facilities. The opening of HeQAP fund for all universities without considering the permanently of campuses is a right step to right direction.
The writer is an English Language Trainer