Published:  12:31 AM, 22 November 2020

Of higher education and research

President M Abdul Hamid could not have said it better some years ago. He asked the University Grants Commission (UGC) to take measures to ensure the quality of research in universities. One cannot disagree with him that in order to keep pace with the global standards, now much competitive, our universities, both public and private, should go through tough qualitative reforms in the education system. The quality of research ensures how competent a university is in imparting higher education. Unfortunately, a constant increase in budgetary allocation for research since 2008-09 fiscal could not improve the quality of research. It's a pity.

Education without research is impractical. A graduate engaged in developing his professional career will surely fail to connect his education with the particular profession he chooses. Here lies the liability of the universities, because universities are the guide whose responsibility is not only providing students with lessons but also preparing them for their future professions. While universities are bound to spend a substantial amount of money on research, considering it a key part of higher education, many are not doing the same.

The unwillingness in spending on research has gradually led to a decline in the standard of university education in the country. Consequently, most universities in Bangladesh have failed to find places among the top universities across the world. How could higher education be imagined without research?Education is fundamental to any civilization so long as overall progress and social harmony are concerned. And research is an inseparable part of education. If western civilization is taken into consideration, their universities and research centers will catch one's sight.

The World Bank consolidated data signify that truth. On education and research Denmark spends 7.8 per cent of its GDP, Norway 6.8 per cent, Sweden 6.6 per cent, Finland 5.9 per cent, France 5.6 per cent, the United States and the United Kingdom 5.5 per cent, and among the newly developed countries South Korea spends 5.0 per cent, Brazil 5.1 per cent, Hong Kong 4.5 per cent, China 4.3 per cent and Malaysia and Thailand 4.1 per cent.

Bangladesh spends only 2.2 per cent (FY 2015). If a future Bangladesh is envisioned to be in the leading stream of civilization, education and research must be paid topmost sincerity, and maximum resources should be allocated to this sector.There is no alternative to research in education. We hope the UGC and all other stakeholders will take this reality into cognizance.

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