Educationists on Wednesday welcomed the decision taken by the University Grants Commission of Bangladesh (UGC) asking all public universities to stop evening courses.
Terming the decision "popular," Professor AK Azad Chowdhury, former UGC chairman, said many public universities have been running such evening courses without maintaining standards.
"I personally welcome the decision and I think most of the students will also appreciate it," he said.
"But the regulations must be amended if the directive is to be implemented in the four autonomous universities [Dhaka University, Rajshahi University, Chittagong University and Jahangirnagar University]," said Professor Azad, who is also the former vice chancellor of Dhaka University (DU).
DU Vice Chancellor Dr Md Akahtaruzzaman told The Business Standard that the university is run under the 1973 ordinance and it also abides by some other rules and regulation.
"The university has no objection to following any directive from the commission if it does not contradict with the Dhaka University laws. We will consider this after discussing it with different bodies of the university," he said.
Former DU professor Syed Manzoorul Islam also welcomed the initiative but suggested that the existing courses be completed before stopping this practice.
Observing that such courses are tarnishing the image of these institutions, the UGC issued a notice on Wednesday, signed by its member Dr Dil Afroza Begum. "I hope that the administrations of all public universities will follow the UGC's direction," she said.
"The vice chancellors of the country's public universities have been discharging their duties with highest wisdom and talent. But the UGC observed they show negligence in implementing some rules and regulations of the universities, which is undesirable. Such carelessness creates disorder on campuses," the notice reads.
Letters have been sent to the vice chancellors of all public universities, said Dr Shamsul Arefin, director of communication and information rights department of UGC.
Other instructions issued to the universities include: taking UGC approval before introducing any new faculties, departments or institutes; approval while creating a new post or removing any post; universities must follow their own laws along with education ministry laws while recruiting and promoting staff; following rules while giving session benefits and transferring teachers and employees from lower grade to upper grades.
The commission also instructed universities to undertake collective efforts to ensure discipline on the campuses; ensure security in all halls and classrooms; launch awareness programmes against sexual harassment, ragging, drug abuse, terrorism and militancy; to start classes, examinations and complete them on time; update the universities' websites; and to ensure transparency of administrative, academic and financial activities.
Most of the 46 public universities in operation have evening courses. Of them, Dhaka University, Jahangirnagar University, Rajshahi University, Jagannath University and Chittagong University have the highest number of evening courses.
Meanwhile Vice President of the Dhaka University Central Students' Union (DUCSU) Nurul Haque Nur thanked the UGC for issuing the notice.
"We have been demanding stoppage of the evening courses, especially from Dhaka University. The regular students are being deprived of learning opportunities from the teachers and the students of evening courses are having to pay huge sums of money to get degrees.
"Evening courses are money-making machines. The teachers are always busy earning more money from evening courses. They are more attentive to the evening courses than the regular courses," he said.
Nur claimed that no DU student wants the evening courses and that a good number of teachers are also against this.
"We will launch a tough movement with the participation of all students if the university authorities show negligence in stopping evening courses," he said.
Earlier on Monday, President Abdul Hamid said commercial courses are turning public universities into business institutions and disrupting the atmosphere in campuses.
He noted that there are some teachers who are reluctant to take classes of regular courses but are very serious when it comes to evening and diploma courses, and taking classes at private universities.
"It's because they get cash benefits from these private universities. But remember, the [public] universities are run with taxpayers' money. So, you have to be accountable to the people," the Chancellor said.