- Public university research allocation to get a shot in the arm
- Works will find out better learning solutions for post-Covid era
- Educationists appreciate govt's realisation, demand more funding
- Foreign aid for research to Bangladesh may fall after 2026
- UGC opts for increasing allocation gradually before that
The University Grants Commission, focusing on post-pandemic learning modules, has sought from the education ministry Tk100 crore as public university research funding for the 2021-22 academic year.
"Public university teachers will not face any research fund crunch from this year. We will provide whatever funds the teachers need," UGC Member Prof Abu Taher told The Business Standard.
The allocation asked for is Tk34 crore more than the research funding for the current academic year.
Referring to the prime minister, Prof Taher said she is also very positive about research fund allocation.
In a recently sent allocation proposal to the ministry, the apex body of the universities also requested tertiary educational institutions to utilise the research funds properly and to find out the best and innovative ways for future learning.
Prof Taher noted that the ministry has held out an assurance of adequate research funding for standard and quality research.
There are 46 public universities with 15,000 teachers in the country. The universities have been provided with Tk66.75 crore in the current national budget for research. The amount was Tk64 crore in the 2019-20 academic session, Tk62 crore in 2018-19, and Tk53 crore in 2017-18.
"Actually, it is high time we introduced a blended learning system in Bangladesh even after a resumption of face-to-face classes. So researchers must come up with an innovative and smarter module for the country's education sector," said the UGC member.
Blended learning is an approach to education that combines online educational materials and opportunities for interaction online with traditional place-based classroom methods.
Apart from research on learning methods, Prof Taher said basic and innovative university research is also important. "I believe university teachers will concentrate more on research and contribute to nation building."
Professor Siddiqur Rahman, former director of the Institute of Education and Research at Dhaka University, said it is a positive sign that the government has finally realised the importance of university research. He noted, though, that the government should have comprehended such a need earlier.
"It's not a handsome amount for quality research," he commented, adding, "I hope the government will increase the allocation further to identify the issues of the education system and resolve them. Only research can help raise the education system to international standards."
Prof AKM Maksud Kamal, pro-vice chancellor (Academic), Dhaka University, said, "I thank the UGC for increasing the 67% research allocation this year. I believe the country will invest more in the future for this purpose in the interest of a better Bangladesh."
Prof Maksud Kamal added that Dhaka University prioritises contemporary issues in its research, and the university hopefully will produce some better works on the post-pandemic education system.
Contacted by The Business Standard, Prof Farid Uddin Ahmed, vice-chancellor of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, said that his university has already chalked out plans of carrying out research through focusing on the Covid-19 situation and its probable solutions.
"In future, we will have to take classes both in-person and online. Therefore, only innovative research can direct us to a better learning module as we must maintain quality education and strive to attain international standards," he added.
For research and innovations, UGC sources said Bangladesh will no longer qualify for foreign aid after 2026 owing to the country's graduation to a middle-income country status. Therefore, the UGC places emphasis on a gradual research allocation rise in advance.