Standards of teaching and research are not up to the mark in the country and this is mostly about money. That is what educationists have been saying for quite a long time.
While experts have kept asking for an allocation of 4% to 6% of the gross domestic product (GDP) to the education sector to improve the quality of teaching, learning, and research, the rate has been hovering between 1% and 2% in Bangladesh -- the lowest among South Asian countries. The higher education sector, in particular, gets much less than what it needs, especially in the field of research.
The outcome of this lack of investment in this supremely important sector is obvious – Bangladeshi universities are failing to come by any notable success in the world arena, such as in QS World Ranking, experts have pointed out.
In the recently published Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Ranking 2023, no Bangladeshi university, be it public and private, has obtained any place at the top level.
The positions of Dhaka University and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) have remained unchanged in the third-lowest bracket (801-1,000), certainly an abysmal show on the global stage.
Brac University and North South University, both in the private sector, have been placed in the second-lowest bracket (1001-1200).
The QS authorities assessed 1,400 higher education institutions worldwide for this year's rankings, based on such parameters as academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty-student ratio, international research network, and employment outcomes. They do not define specific positions for universities rated below 500.
For the 11th year in a row, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) remains the world's number one university by QS authority's metrics. The University of Cambridge has upgraded its position to take 2nd place. It was ranked 7th last year.
Stanford University, University of Oxford, Harvard University, and California Institute of Technology are placed at 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th positions, in that order.
Nine Indian institutes made it to the top 500 global universities this year while three Pakistani universities also are on the list.
A total of 26 Asian universities have secured positions among the top 100 universities in the world.
Education experts have said Bangladeshi universities will never be able to make it to the top 500 global universities if the government does not look into the universities and allocate sufficient funds for the sector.
Syed Manzoorul Islam, a former professor of English at Dhaka University, told The Business Standard that Bangladeshi universities score poorly in the individual performance indicators of global rankings, which leads to a decline in overall scores.
"Research is key when it comes to securing a good position in the rankings. Our quality of research is poor. That is why the research we produce fails to meet international standards," he observed.
"Proper planning and adequate funds are a prerequisite to good research work at our public and private universities," he said.
Professor AK Azad Chowdhury, former chairman of the University Grants Commission and also former vice-chancellor of Dhaka University, told TBS that it is high time to rethink the country's education system, especially higher education.
"University authorities should concentrate on research and world standard teaching-learning methods," he said.
In his comments, Professor Md Akhtaruzzaman, vice-chancellor of Dhaka University, said the university is trying to ensure quality education and emphasise research activities.
Research, international student-teacher ratio, and employment outcomes help universities attain reputation rapidly, Professor Atiqul Islam, vice-chancellor of North South University, told TBS, adding, "I hope we will be one of the best universities in the world as we are working to improve our overall research and other academic activities."
Professor Vincent Chang, vice-chancellor of Brac University, said the institution will push on with a strategic focus on international engagement, student experience, and impactful research. "I expect our ranking will improve in the coming years," he said. ***