A 100 years into enriching the country's pool of knowledge, Dhaka University has formulated an ambitious master plan to upgrade and overhaul its vast campus.
The administration will implement the initiative in three phases in a time span of 15 years and at a cost of Tk10,000 crore, university sources said, adding that the first-ever plan of this scale would soon be sent to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for approval.
If approved, the administration will turn Dhaka University into Bangladesh's first solar powered campus, install a rainwater harvesting system and cover the campus in greenery. Besides, the campus will also get new academic and administrative buildings, a dedicated playground for female students, a separate bicycle lane and many other upgrades.
The university has set a cost of Tk3,000 crore for the initial phase of this development work, with the ultimate goal of making the institution more academically and environmentally friendly for everyone. The University Syndicate passed the plan on 17 September last year.
The institution began its journey more than a century ago with only three faculties, 12 teaching departments, three residential halls, 60 teachers and 847 students, dedicated to the advancement of learning and committed to promoting research in all fields of knowledge.
The country's oldest university has expanded in terms of infrastructure, number of teachers, students, faculties, institutions, departments and residential halls multiple times in the span of the last century.
However, the plan formulated by the current administration is the largest so far, and it has been devised to meet the ever growing demands of the institution, university sources said.
Dhaka University's Pro-Vice Chancellor (Academic) and convener of the Master Plan Technical Committee Prof ASM Maksud Kamal told The Business Standard, "The Syndicate passed the plan aiming for a modernised higher education institution upholding global standards.
"The university, for the first time in its history, has prepared a master plan to intensify the beauty of the campus and to ensure a congenial academic atmosphere. I hope that the implementation of this plan will start very soon."
Spelling out more details, he said, "When implemented, we can resolve many existing problems faced by the students, teachers and employees. We are also planning to build a friendlier research institution by building a modern central library and research centre."
Prof AK Azad Chowdhury, former VC of the university, said, "I have heard that the master plan is wonderful. The strength of the university will be enhanced if this plan is implemented.
"Research is the main motto of a university. But at the same time, infrastructure and a good academic environment are also important. I believe that the quality of research will improve further after the plan is implemented."
Syed Anwar Husain, former professor of the university's history department, said the residential crisis faced by both teachers and students and poor library management disrupt academic activities, including research.
Implementing the project will be a tremendous endeavour for the university.
"I welcome the initiative, and I am optimistic that it will not just remain on paper."
Modernised Central library
The Dhaka University Central Library is among the richest ones in South Asia as it has more than 3 lakh books and over 40,000 journals. The library also has a rare collection of historical books and documents.
At present, students and teachers cannot use the library due to an insufficient number of seats. Only 2% of the total number of students and teachers can study in the library at a time. It is to be noted that Dhaka University has around 40,000 students and 2,000 teachers.
The university administration plans to build a 10-storey building with all modern facilities, so that it can meet global standards.
Renovation, construction of residential buildings
Only 45% of students have residential facilities in the university's 23 halls. The master plan will ensure residential facilities for more than 80% of students, to prevent a shortage of seats in the halls from disrupting their academic activities.
All the existing halls will be renovated and new halls will be built in three phases of the plan. Moreover, Shah Newaz Dormitory will be renamed as Joy Bangla Hall after its demolition and renovation.
First solar powered campus in Bangladesh
Dhaka University will be the country's first solar energy based campus after implementing the new plan. The university plans a 100% transition to electricity generated from solar energy, instead of relying on the grid.
A dedicated playground will be built for female students behind Rokeya Hall, and it will have all modern facilities including a gymnasium and a swimming pool.
Moreover, a separate cycle lane will be built for cyclists to reduce the minimise caused by motor vehicle traffic and to make the campus more environment friendly. The university authorities will also restrict vehicle traffic within the campus.
Dhaka University will install rainwater harvesting systems on all buildings, and make it mandatory for all to reduce the usage of groundwater.
Modernised Registrar Building, Medical Centre
The present registrar building is facing severe accommodation shortage as the university had only 10,000 students when it was built. But now the registrar building has to provide services to more than 3.50 lakh students, including students from affiliated colleges.
Under the circumstances, officials cannot provide rapid services to students and they are sometimes forced to wait one month for a day's work. After the iconic building is constructed, officials will not face any accommodation issues and students will get their services on time.
Currently students only get a basic level of treatment at the Dhaka University Medical Centre. They have to visit the Dhaka Medical College Hospital or any other healthcare facilities for the treatment of complicated medical issues.
Under the new plan, the university administration will turn the existing medical centre into a modern healthcare facility with a team of freshly hired specialised doctors.
Multi-storey building for Ducsu
The Dhaka University Central Students' Union (Ducsu) has played a pivotal role in every major political movement since the British colonial period. However, the Ducsu building, as it stands, is currently in need of major renovation.
The building also houses a museum, but a lack of proper management and accommodation is damaging the items on display there. Under the master plan, a new multi-storey building will be constructed after demolishing the old one.