Published:  01:10 AM, 04 July 2017

Merit in mindset

Public vs Private University-the debate seems more pivotal than India-Pakistan war sometimes, especially in Bangladesh, right? Well, our society has monopoly on defining things. With sheer enthusiasm and vague experience they differentiate among critical issues and divert that into a whole new dimension. Thereupon, society has taken the extravagant duty to compartmentalize 'talented' 'brilliant' etc. based on student's institution which certainly crowns private university students with the title of 'spoiled' and 'stupid'.

You may disagree with the word 'stupid' but I request better not to sugarcoat anything. I have seen people's opinion regarding private university and the discrimination they bear in mind. It's appalling! Every student have a minimum dream for education and when they see it get wasted, it affects them. Sadly it doesn't end there. Everyone leave no stones unturned to taunts the student-parents, relatives and the aunty from next doortoo! I know several students who are drowned in the ocean of depression just because they haven't got chance in public university. Even there are students who think of taking their valuable life just for this sake.

Who is responsible for this? Once again, those people who don't even know the whole picture, don't know how to evaluate a system, don't know the actual quality of students.  Let's do a simple math here before laying our judgmental eyes on private university students. A total of 1,203,640 students appeared for higher secondary certificate exam in 2016. Among then 8,99,150 students passed and 58,376 students managed to get GPA-5. Now it's time for admission test!

According to University Grants Commission (UGC) estimate, the 37 public universities had 5,21,184 seats in the 2015-2016 academic year. Furthermore, according to the data of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) in 2015, there were 93 medical colleges -- public and private -- with a total of 9,112 seats. Of them, 29 public medical colleges had 3,162 and 64 private medical colleges had 5,950 seats for admission to the MBBS course. In total, public university and medical colleges had 5, 30,296 seats.

On the other hand, 83 private universities had approximately 3lac seats. Some may raise the point of national universities, but due to the insufficient facilities like inadequate teachers and teaching quality, that is kept excluded from our calculation. After all, we all are hankering after 'quality education'! Coming back to my simple math, get me the answer of this simple equation, where will this 3, 68,854 students go? Obviously, the numbers of seats have increased a bit in recent years, but is that lot enough for students? 

Then again, students manage to get themselves together from all social judgments and settle for private university. Then starts all the pinches! Apparently, there are some common myths about private university students. They are the spoiled child of rich people, dull students, less efficient, unsocial, aristocrats with no knowledge of reality and also, not talented at all. I could agree with all of these, but wait, only if you are talking about a scenario portraying 8-10 years back. Now? The picture is upside down, totally!

Existence of private universities are visual reality with significantly successful stories in most of the cases and in comparison of performance with public universities.  Now private universities are not a substitute for the public ones rather they stand by their own credentials. At the initial stage students opted for private universities in case of their failure to get enrolled in public universities, but things have changed now proving the growing significance and standard of private universities.

Moreover, private universities are not filled with spoiled rich kids anymore. Now students pay their own tuition fees by their own earning sometimes, they study hard for maintaining scholarship, they go to abroad in the same funding or scholarship like a public university student and works in the same cubicle with them.In addition to that, they are nailing every competition with same crackerjack style like public university.Also, the 'puppet' class student we mock about, have forced government to change their decision on 7.5% vat, also, without any violence. If that doesn't mean reality, what else?

Now, one may raise the fact that this is very small in ratio. Well, public universities have history of hundreds of years, where private universities have got only 10-15 years approximately. Whatever the sector is, it needs a minimum time to sprout. Then again, how could we expect similar outputs from two different inputs?

However, the discrimination is there, swirling through every level of society-especially in people's perception. Because, other than that, the difference is declining day by day and it should be erased like that. Dr. Tanvir Manzur, Associate Professor of Dept. of Civil Engineering, (BUET) remarks, 'I believe that the "tag" of the name of an Institute makes a mark which cannot be denied for certain. However, job sector and judging a student is completely a different domain. It is completely dependent upon his/her way of learning, performance in academic life, smartness, perseverance, creativity and so on. So apart from a good institution, whether it is private or public, I think these are the main features of a student to take into judgement.'

Even Jakaria Jalal, General Manager of Bashundhara group has danced with the same tune. With a neutrality in his tone, he has annotated, 'We do not discriminate between public or private university students while hiring them, as in recent years they private university students have proved them equal like public university students. Therefore, when we get the report of an employee's activity, we evaluate only his work and that is purely equal whether that's public or private university'.

Therefore, the question remains, when a portion of these 'left out' students manage to get education by themselves, who are we to judge them? What is their fault? Not getting chance in a public university? If she/he would, someone else wouldn't. In anyway, students would be left without enough seats. Then again, our society categorize public university students as 'meritorious' and private university students as 'average/dull'.

Why so? Because they did not get top marks in an admission test which is not even a standard system of evaluating human brain. Where the whole curriculum and system is based on wrong foundation, how can we even dare to think negative of them who are making the best out of it? 

Still, we believe in positivity. We think of a future devoid of all discriminations. Md Shumon Mia, Lecturer of Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering(BUET) says, 'Actually nobody can justify any discrimination. But in our society discrimination may prevail based on some seemingly legitimate backgrounds. University Grants Commission (UGC) has alerted the students and guardians about some private universities questioning their facilities and quality of education. Nevertheless, some private universities are doing very well and I think, in near future, the gap between private and public university will be invisible'.

Simply put, education is not a product that students should compete for. This should be an achievement and more or less most of us have forgot it. Therefore, even if we decide on social parameters of success and merit, private university students are passing those with flying colors. Moreover, no session jam, accountability of administration, quality education-all are pushing this sector towards further development. Then why can't we accept this thriving group? Isn't that the slenderness of our thought-tunnel?Let's put some merit in our mindset too!

The writer is schooling with BRAC University and  she can be reached at

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