Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020 has been published. As always, the absence of Bangladeshi universities in this ranking has been disappointing.
University rankings evaluate student-teacher ratio, infrastructure, class room size, admission process of local and foreign students, foreign faculty, number of PhDs and some other factors.
Research publication, however, has been the most important of all. This is our Achilles' heel. We have a lot of universities who offer master degrees and PhD programs. But these universities barely produce impactful research publications.
Lack of funding is the easy excuse for the lack of impactful researches. But truth is that the government provides enough funding to the universities for research. What we lack is an environment that nurtures research culture which takes time to build.
There is also an absence of collaboration between industry and academia. The focus of research, in development or otherwise, should be finding practical usage.
Our industries do not seek assistance from the universities when they encounter problems. Industries seeking the universities' assistance can create a culture of industrial investment for research. This could work as an incentive for further research.
University lecturers level up to professorship with low-quality, local publications. This does not help the cause of furthering motivation for proper researches in students.
Student-teacher ratio is another factor at play here. In top U.S. colleges, the student and teacher ratio is 8:1 whereas in Bangladesh, the ration is around 60:1, and in some cases, it is even around 80:1.
Unhealthy political engagement of teachers and students axed academic excellence. National interest is not the drive for political engagement anymore. Serving of personal ambitions staying within the educational infrastructure has only damaged its quality. It reflects in the international university rankings.
In this unfortunate circumstance, quality education is still being provided by a few universities. Irrespective of private and public universities, some degrees are of international standard.
Setting aside petty political interest and personal gains, if both the teachers and the students worked for research regularly, we can build a culture of research works as well as produce impactful researches.
Professor Mohammad Tamim, Pro-Vice Chancellor, BRAC University