A new policy for public universities is going to require its teachers to spend 35 hours a week at the university for direct teaching, research and other academic activities.
The definition of "direct teaching hours" has been changed in the draft of the policy, incorporating lectures, practical classes, project supervision and tutorials.
The Ministry of Education is set to enact a series of such policies under the name "Load Calculation" with an aim to bring teachers and employees of public universities under discipline and check recruitment anomalies.
According to the new policies prepared by the University Grants Commission (UGC), a lecturer will have to spend 16 hours a week in direct teaching, while assistant professors will have 14 hours of lecture time, associate professors 12 hours and professors 10 hours.
Upon finalisation, the draft policies will be sent to the ministry for final approval soon, UGC sources said.
Professor Dr Dil Afroza Begum, a moving force behind the policies and acting chairman of the UGC, told The Business Standard, "We held meetings with the vice-chancellors of all public universities on 3 April to share the policy details. If the vice-chancellors provide any recommendations, they will be added."
The policies have been prepared for all public science and technology universities, agricultural universities, medical universities and engineering universities.
A majority of public university vice-chancellors allegedly engage in controversial recruitments at the end of their tenure, which include recruiting family members at the universities.
Moreover, a good number of public university teachers allegedly do not spend their allotted time in their departments but rather take classes at private universities or other institutions.
Having observed such irregularities, the ministry has taken the initiative to formulate the policies.
"With the new policies in place, we will be able to know how much manpower is needed for a university and we can easily check on unnecessary recruitment. Basically, we want to bring discipline to the universities so that our teachers can be dedicated to research and academic activities only," said Professor Dil Afroza.
According to the policy, every department will have to evaluate teachers' performance and send the evaluation to the university authorities. Every university will be required to submit its performance reports to the UGC every six months.
Employees too will have to work 35 hours each week, which means each employee will have to work seven hours as direct working hours a day.
The UGC will then evaluate the performance of the teachers and employees and fix the amount of manpower required for each university. No additional manpower will be recruited without the UGC's permission.
In line with the policies, no department will be allowed to admit more than 60 students for an academic session. Besides, a maximum of 30 students will be allowed to take practical classes at the laboratory.
Public universities are plagued with temporary recruitments based on nepotism and political recommendations. Later, the universities forced the UGC to make those appointments permanent.
Under these circumstances, the UGC issued a directive that banned all ad-hoc recruitments from 2011. But no university followed the directive. As a result, many VCs were allegedly involved in recruitment irregularities and have faced the music for their controversial activities.
The ministry has planned to make policies to check rampant appointments and bring academic activities under discipline.
VCs welcome the move
Professor Akhtaruzzaman, vice-chancellor of Dhaka University, told TBS that the Load Calculation policies are a good initiative of the UGC and he believes it will ensure transparency among teachers and employees.
Professor Dr Satya Prasad Majumder, vice-chancellor of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, told TBS that the policies were much needed to check the recruitment irregularities in the country's public universities.
"I think the policies will compel the teachers to concentrate more in research and other academic activities," he added.
Direct teaching hours in other countries
In India, the number of teaching hours for an assistant professor is 16 hours weekly; associate professors and professors have 14 hours, including time spent on tutorials and practicals.
In Sri Lanka, the number of teaching hours for assistant professors, associates, and full time professors is 6 to 7 hours a week and they are compelled to work more than 2 hours if the authorities require them to do so.
The number of teaching hours for senior lecturers, lecturers, and lecturers is 9 hours a week and 10 hours a week for assistants. They are also compelled to work more than 3 and 4 hours respectively if the authorities think so.
In the USA, assistant professors on average teach 9 to 12 hours weekly or two classes per semester. They are expected to conduct research projects and publish research papers. The position can be seen as a training period during which one works to develop a case for tenure.
Associate professors spend fewer hours on undergraduate teaching (about 6 to 9 hours a week) and are likely to lead graduate classes and advise graduate students on their dissertation projects.
Full professors usually teach 3 to 6 hours per week. They take an active role in the research projects and dissertations of doctoral candidates.