The University Grants Commission (UGC) has taken an initiative to vaccinate all students and teachers of public and private universities against Covid-19 in line with recommendations of health experts.
Health experts have been recommending bringing all teachers, employees, and students of public and private universities under the vaccination coverage to prevent Covid-19 infections in higher education institutions and to ensure that academic activities are run smoothly.
The UGC has sent letters to universities seeking lists of students and teachers. Residential students of public universities will get vaccines first.
UGC member Professor Md Alamgir told The Business Standard it would be safe to reopen universities after vaccinating all the students and teachers of all higher education institutions in the country.
"We have asked universities to send their lists as early as possible," he said.
Professor Dr Shamsad Mortuza, pro-vice-chancellor of the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh, said they had sent the list to the UGC a few days ago.
"I hope the education ministry will take steps so that students and teachers of private universities get vaccines as early as possible," he said.
There are about seven lakh students and 30,000 teachers at 46 public and 106 private universities, except for colleges under National University, in the country. Only 1.3 lakh students of public universities are staying in dormitories.
The UGC has yet to get the lists of residential students and teachers from all public universities. 36 public universities have sent their lists but most of those are incomplete.
The University of Dhaka, the University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh Agricultural University, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science and Technology University, and Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University have not submitted their lists yet.
Professor Md Akhtaruzzaman, vice-chancellor of the University of Dhaka, said his university had prepared the list and would sent that soon.
Teachers and students have expressed doubt about getting vaccines before 17 May, the date of reopening dormitories, due to universities delaying sending their lists as well as sending incomplete lists.
Mamun Abdul Kaioum, assistant professor of mass communication and journalism at the University of Rajshahi, said his university had drawn up the list of teachers only.
"It will not be fruitful if teachers are vaccinated only. All residential students should be brought under vaccination coverage," he said.
Arefin Shariat, a residential student of Bijoy Ekattor Hall at the University of Dhaka, said the university authorities had not sought any information from him.
"Not only me but a good number of students in my hall did not register their names to get vaccines either. The picture is the same in other dormitories."
Moreover, universities are not attaching copies of national identity cards of residential students to the lists. Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) sources said the Surokkha app would not set vaccination dates without national identity cards.
Professor Alamgir said they had requested the DGHS to provide vaccines to all students whose information had already been submitted.
"But the DGHS said they would provide vaccines to only those whose national identity card copies had been submitted."
According to the latest UGC data, the names of as many as 53,000 students and teachers out of 1.5 lakh have been submitted to the UGC.
In the face of protests at different universities across the country, the government earlier decided to reopen public and private universities on 24 May. Dormitories of public universities will reopen on 17 May.
Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni said all residential students of public universities would be vaccinated before reopening dormitories.
Educational institutions were shut in March last year amid the outbreak of the dreaded Covid-19 in Bangladesh.