University students will be back to their campuses on 24 May as the institutions are opening after more than one year of closure amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the face of student protests at different universities across the country, the government made the decision yesterday afternoon.
But, residential halls at public universities will reopen on 17 May.
The authorities will ensure Covid vaccination of the residential students, teachers and employees before they join their campuses, Education Minister Dipu Moni said on Monday at a virtual briefing on issues relating to higher education.
Schools, colleges and universities were shut in March last year following the outbreak of the deadly Covid-19 in Bangladesh. Classes and examinations were held online partially during the pandemic.
There are 1.30 lakh residential students in 220 halls, 15,000 teachers and 25,000 employees in 46 public universities. Also, there are 106 private universities. As many as 40 lakh students are in the higher education level.
All examinations will remain halted till the reopening of the universities, but online classes will continue, Dipu Moni said.
She asked the students currently staying in university dorms to leave the campuses immediately, and warned that the university authorities and law enforcers will take action if anyone gets involved in offensive activities.
"I request the authorities to clean and renovate residential halls at the universities before 17 May by maintaining the health guidelines," she said.
"Bangladesh has achieved tremendous success in controlling the Covid-19 pandemic. We do not want to tarnish the success of the government by taking any hurried steps."
Govt to consider BCS exam age limit
The minister said the government will consider the age limit for appearing in the Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS) examinations as many aspirants have crossed the maximum age limit for government jobs during the pandemic.
Dipu Moni asked the Bangladesh Public Service Commission (PSC) to fix the date for BCS exams, keeping the campus reopening timeline in consideration.
Meanwhile, students at different universities such as Dhaka University, Rajshahi University, Jahangirnagar University, Chattogram University and Islamic University Kushtia have intensified their protests since Saturday to press home their demand for reopening halls.
A group of Dhaka University students broke into the Shahidullah Hall on Monday, two days after the protesting students of Jahangirnagar University did the same on their campus. Around 100 students broke open the lock and entered the DU hall around 12pm.
Later, they came out of the hall and met the vice-chancellor, who asked the students to wait until the decision of the academic council meeting scheduled for Tuesday.
Dhaka University earlier this month decided to reopen its residential halls in March.
About the DU decision, the minister said, "We sat with all vice-chancellors and took the decision. The decision of Dhaka University will also be cancelled as there is no chance to reopen universities before 24 May."
Students were continuing their demonstrations at Jahangirnagar University till 8pm when the report was filed.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday instructed authorities concerned, including the education ministry to evaluate the situation for reopening schools and colleges amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said this at a press conference after the weekly cabinet meeting held at the Bangladesh Secretariat.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina presided over the meeting virtually from her official residence Ganabhaban in the capital.
"We will sit at an inter-ministerial meeting within 5-6 days to review the situation for reopening educational institutions as per the directive of the prime minister," Khandker Anwarul Islam said
He said that they would first assess the situation to determine whether it is congenial enough for reopening educational institutions, and then, the decision would be taken in this regard.
The cabinet secretary said now the educational institutions remain open in the European countries except for the United Kingdom.
The prime minister has asked the authorities concerned to ensure vaccines for teachers and employees of educational institutions first and then students, he said.