UCLAN, UK study centre in Dhaka gets nod - Dainikshiksha

UCLAN, UK study centre in Dhaka gets nod

Amader Barta Correspondent |

The Ministry of Education has approved the opening of another study centre for a foreign university in Bangladesh despite objections raised by the University Grants Commission (UGC) regarding its compliance with existing laws.

Despite the rejection of the application by the UGC, citing conflicts with the Private University Act of 2010 and the Foreign Branch Campus/Study Centre Rules of 2014, the Ministry of Education has granted permission, disregarding the UGC's concerns. This decision marks the establishment of study centres for three foreign universities in Bangladesh thus far.


 
The latest addition is a study centre for The University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) in the UK, which has been approved for a seven-year period under 14 specified conditions. The programmes offered by this university will be conducted through 'Universal College Bangladesh' in the Bashundhara residential area of the capital.
 
Previously, Educo Bangladesh Limited had been granted permission to operate study centres for Monash University based in Australia and the London School of Economics in the UK. Despite objections from the UGC, these approvals were granted. Subsequently, on April 3, the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) applied for the establishment of a study centre in Bangladesh, and despite objections from the UGC, the ministry approved it.
 
The approval order, addressed to Manas Singh, the chief executive of Educo Bangladesh Limited, stipulates compliance with the regulations outlined in article 7 of the Foreign Branch Campus/Study Centre Rules of 2014, which was established under the authority of the Private Universities Act of 2010. The approval is granted under sub-rules 5(4) and 5(5) for the establishment and operation of programmes by the University of Central Lancashire, UK, through 'Universal College Bangladesh' (Educo Bangladesh Limited) for a duration of seven years.

 
Officials from both the ministry and the UGC have confirmed that when Educo Bangladesh Limited applied for the establishment of the study centre for the University of Lancashire, the UGC conducted an inspection and submitted a report rejecting the proposal to the ministry.
 
According to the UGC report, while the regulations of 2014 allow for the establishment of branch campuses and management of study centres for foreign universities, this conflicts with Section 39 of the Private Universities Act of 2010. Consequently, the UGC asserts that it is not legally empowered to approve applications for study centres of foreign universities in the country.
 
Khaleda Akhtar, Additional Secretary (Universities) of the Ministry of Education, justified the decision by stating that it was deemed necessary by the government. When questioned about the UGC's objections, she deferred comment until she had further details.
 
However, ministry officials revealed that despite objections raised in the UGC report regarding the University of Lancashire's study centre, the education minister expressed a desire to proceed with its establishment, similar to the approval process for the London School of Economics study centre. As a result, the ministry granted permission, disregarding the UGC's recommendation.
 
A senior UGC official expressed dissatisfaction, stating that their objections regarding the lack of legal provision for study centres of foreign universities were disregarded.
 
Similar attempts were made in May 2023 to establish study centres for three foreign universities, but they were not approved. In September of the same year, the education minister at the time, Dipu Moni, refused permission for the study centres of Leeds Trinity University in the UK, Mahsa University in Malaysia, and West London Study Centre in the UK.
 
The Ministry of Education and the UGC had highlighted the issue of foreign higher education institutions operating illegally in Bangladesh without approval. A notice was then issued blacklisting approximately 56 foreign higher education institutions, primarily due to their status as certificate-issuing entities.
 
In response, the education ministry formulated policies to regulate foreign university activities, as reflected in the Private Universities Act of 2010, which permits only branch campuses. Private universities approved under this act are governed as non-profit institutions of higher education under the Trust Act of 1882. Conversely, branch campuses or study centres of foreign universities are classified as profit-making institutions under the Company Act of 1994.
 
Supreme Court lawyer Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua told the media that the approval of such study centres was contradictory to the law, emphasising that regulations must align with the main law and not conflict with it.
 
The Ministry of Education made it mandatory for proposed study centre to adhere to all regulations outlined in the Private Universities Act of 2010 and the Rules for Management of Branch Campuses or Study Centres of Foreign Universities or Institutions of 2014. Requirements for setting up and operating study centres include a minimum floor area fo 1,000 sqft, appointment of full-time teachers, approval of educational programmes by the commission, and provision of necessary facilities such as computers and laboratories.
 
Currently, there are 115 private universities and three international universities in the country. Some private universities have faced restrictions on admissions due to various complaints, including certificate trading. 

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