The Bangladesh Accreditation Council, also known as BAC, is finally going to offer accreditation – an official recognition of competence – to public and private universities in the country.
The process of the accreditation will be commenced with an inauguration ceremony scheduled to be held at the International Mother Language Institute in the capital on Wednesday (20 July).
The accreditation certificates will add extra value and help the universities attain more national and international recognition.
"Although it is a delayed start, I believe the BAC [through its accreditation service] will be able to ensure quality higher education in the country," Bangladesh Accreditation Council Chairman Professor Mesbah Uddin Ahmed told The Business Standard.
The National Education Policy, framed in 2010, suggested the formation of the accreditation council and called for offering accreditation to universities for ensuring quality higher education in the country, but the education ministry took 12 years to implement that.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation also reminded the need for accreditation at the tertiary level of education in Bangladesh, Professor Mesbah Uddin continued.
"With the accreditation to the institutions and their curriculums, students will be able to choose their programmes based on the accreditation grades," he added.
A university has to pay Tk2 lakh as application fee to get the accreditation certificate for 5 years for each course, according to the council that would have the authority to provide or cancel accreditation.
It, however, has no power to compel any university to apply for the accreditation.
After an evaluation with 100 marks by a committee of the council, aspirant universities will be awarded accreditation certificates if they get 70 or above marks. In the case of 60-69 marks, the BAC will provide "confidence" certificates for just one year. No certificate will be issued if any aspirant gets below 60 marks.
The marking will be based on various criteria — governance; leadership, responsibility and autonomy; institutional integrity and transparency; teaching-learning and assessment; student admission and support services; faculty and professional staff; facilities and resources; research and scholarly activities; and monitoring, evaluation and continual improvement.
"The university who will delay or not take the certificates will pay the price for that. They will face problems [as their competitors will have accreditation] at many stages. Hence, all of them will come to get accredited," the BAC chairman added.
Meanwhile, education experts appreciated the government move of introducing the accreditation but they called for keeping the council neutral for an expected outcome.
"I welcome the government as well as the education ministry for the initiative. The ministry should appoint qualified staff for running the institution [accreditation council], and keep it free from bias," Professor Siddiqur Rahman, former director of the Institute of Education and Research at Dhaka University told TBS.
The education ministry approved the draft of The Accreditation Council bill in 2012, the cabinet in 2106, and the Parliament in 2017.
Finally, the council was established in August 2018.
Such an accreditation council was established in India in 1994, Pakistan in 2006, Sri Lanka in 2005 and Nepal in 2017.
What VCs say?
Professor Akhtaruzzaman, vice-chancellor of Dhaka University, told TBS that it is a good initiative from the government. "I believe the BAC will play an important role in ensuring quality higher education in the country," he added.
"The accreditation will definitely enhance the dignity of our universities in the world arena," said Professor Atiqul Islam, vice-chancellor of North South University. "I see the initiative very positively."
There are 108 private and 50 public universities in the country.
Private universities have mushroomed over the past 30 years, but most of them have been operating academic activities, flouting rules and regulations in the absence of appropriate punitive action by the government.
Only 11 out of 104 private universities have all the required top officials. Of the rest, 73 have vice-chancellors, 22 have pro-vice-chancellors, and 54 have treasurers, according to the 47th annual report of the University Grants Commission published last year.