The University Grants Commission (UGC) of Bangladesh is the statutory apex body in the field of higher education in Bangladesh. The UGC was established under the President’s Order (P.O.) No. 10 of 1973, which was deemed to have come into force with effect from 16 December 1972. The primary objectives of the UGC are to supervise, maintain, promote and coordinate university education. It is also responsible for maintaining standard and quality in all the public and private universities in Bangladesh. It is playing a very important role in textile education in the university level. Recently Bangladesh Textile Today team met Prof Abdul Mannan, Chairman, UGC, who was former vice-chancellor of Chittagong University. Here is the glimpse of the conversation for our readers.
Textile Today: How do you see the trend of textile education in Bangladesh? Is this education trend meets the demand of textile industry?
Prof Abdul Mannan: Bangladesh has most flourishing textile industry after China. There are many features in textile industry. You have to learn how to make yarn, fabric, and cloths. To learn this institutional framework is a must. However, it was absent formerly but now it is available here, and I see that the textile industry of the country will grow more in future. For growing up, we need sufficient amount of managerially and technically skilled manpower. Now there are two kinds of university for textile education, where some university is fully textile education based and some are serving textile education by a separate department. We have felt the necessity of textile education and that’s why we have established Textile University and we allowed different university to open textile department. Bangladesh government as well as some foreign institutions is very much eager to help this. UGC has already entered into a contact with German government for assisting Bangladesh textile education for sustainable development of textile industry and another MoU will be done with Turkey in the next month.
Textile Today: How do you assure quality of textile department of private universities?
Prof Abdul Mannan: It’s not a question of private university, UGC are not only producing graduates from private university rather we produce graduates both from public and private universities. They have to provide quality education to the graduates so that the graduates get jobs. When we give approval of any university to open textile department, we see their capacity of Lab, but we do not visit there for inquiry but we monitor them regularly.
Textile Today: Several university teachers said to develop a proper policy for textile education. Is there any necessity of ‘policy’? What do you think?
Prof Abdul Mannan: Yes, it could be developed. There are many aspects in every industry, in textile industry, there are also several aspects like production, management, compliance, supervision. Minimum four lacs foreign workers are working in Bangladeshi industries and most of them are working in the textile industry, where only 17,000 are legal. Bangladesh is spending 5 billion dollar for the four lacs foreign manpower, in the same time our 80 lacs manpower, who are working abroad have sent 14 billion dollar.
Textile Today: International ratio for engineering team in a company is 1: 5: 25, that’s mean one degree engineer: five diploma engineers: 25 technicians (unskilled workforce or day labor is not a part of engineering team). But B.Sc. engineer is more available than diploma engineer in Bangladesh textile and RMG industry. Is it not a great imbalance?
Prof Abdul Mannan: This imbalance will not sustain whether there are need for so many B.Sc. engineer in textile industry. It is not imbalance for Bangladesh. If your company needs a diploma engineer, you will not recruit a B.Sc. engineer. If you want to recruit a high profile employee for IT section then you search an IT graduate not diploma engineer. When you will need a diploma engineer then you will go always for diploma engineer. So it is the question of need. Anyway, Bangladesh government gave 100 million dollar to several universities in 6 divisions in last fiscal year, including BUTEX to develop their ability. It is said that Bangladesh is going to be the first RMG producers in the world by 2040 as China is coming out from this sector day by day. To attain this position now Bangladesh textile education needs to provide more skilled manpower in production and management.
Textile Today: How do you see the prospect of textile industry?
Prof Abdul Mannan: Here I want to mention a point that a country should not depend on only one industry, because it is risky for the economy, as that industry will not economically viable for all time. I think textile industry is a footloose industry as there is no guarantee that in future we will get more and more order from foreign buyers, rather if they get product in low price from others country like Cambodia, India or Vietnam, they will not come in Bangladesh. Obviously, we need garment industry, but at the same time we have to develop other sectors. We should diversify our industry in Electronics, IT, frozen food, pharmaceutical industry, Ship building etc. As we need to develop textile sector, textile education should be more developed. Thus, floor level, management level, supervision level, compliance etc will be progressed and it will help to build a sustainable textile industry.
Textile Today: You know that textile engineering is a professional degree and if the industry is not available then there is no scope for the textile engineers. On the other hand, in the recent few years a huge number of students are passing out from the private universities. So do you have any plan to sit with industry experts and professionals to assess the industry requirements and control such engineering enrolment, which may also help reduce dependency for foreign employee?
Prof Abdul Mannan: We are making collaboration with them according to our policy. There is a term in World Bank ‘university-industry collaboration’, which we are following in IT and pharmaceutics. Textile universities have to come to us for learning, I think they know better that textile educational institution needs to maintain a close relationship with textile industry. The universities need to provide qualitative education to their graduates as they get job, otherwise in future students will not come to study in their institutions.
Textile Today: It is said that some private universities are giving certificates to the fake students for money. What is your opinion about this? What should do to solve this problem?
Prof Abdul Mannan: Yes, this is true that some university is involved in giving certificates to the fake students for money. We are trying the best to solve this problem and we are trying to bring them under law. However, we have some legal limitations as we are running according to ‘The University Grants Commission (UGC) Act, 1973’. Therefore, we could not take immediate actions against them. But we hope this year the act will be changed and we will be able to take immediate actions against them.
Textile Today: In a recent program Prime Minister told that “Work is underway to amend ‘The University Grants Commission (UGC) Act, 1973’ to properly monitor the activities of both public and private universities”. What it would be, could you please share with us?
Prof Abdul Mannan: UGC of others country is very powerful and they can take immediate actions if necessary, but we could not take this for the limitation of the law. Prime Minister has already said that a new law will be made which will enable us to take any required actions for universities. Under this new law, the structure of UGC will be changed.
Textile Today: The private universities were given the deadline to move to their own campuses, but many of them are yet to move to their own campus. What is your opinion about this issue?
Prof Abdul Mannan: Only 12 private universities among 51 have moved to permanent campuses some 24 years after they were established, even though under the law they were supposed to move within seven years. It is necessary for the universities to move to permanent campuses for their own interest and they are going. They have bought lands but some may not start construction. Only one university was left to buy land, but recently it has bought land too. Anyway, UGC provides information and assist on this issue but ministry takes the decision.