Private universities in Chattogram are cutting the salaries of their employees and staff due to the financial crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Some universities are not paying their staff salaries on time.
Officials of the universities said the private universities are run with the tuition fees of the students. New students are not being admitted as there has been no HSC examination. New student enrollment has dropped by 50 to 60 percent. This has created a financial crisis. Therefore, it is not possible to pay salary-bonus.
However, according to the employees of the universities who are victims of financial troubles, educational activities are going on, teachers are taking classes online. Even, the number of reverse classes has increased. There are many other types of pressures too. So, the universities are cutting salaries to make a profit in business.
On condition of anonymity, an assistant professor at Southern University, a private university in Chattogram, told the Business Standard, his salary is Tk48,000, but he gets Tk24,000 at present.
He said Southern University is not a new institution. Such an old university is cutting salaries during Covid-19 on the pretext of financial loss. Where did the income they earned for so many years go to?
Sources at Southern University said the university admits 900 students every semester. The admission process for their new session started in June, but 80 percent of the seats are vacant still.
The university has 180 permanent and temporary teachers and 250 staff. Teachers, officials and employees of Southern have been receiving half of their salaries since Covid-19 started in April. They have not received any bonus during Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha.
Professor Sarwar Jahan, entrepreneur and treasurer of Southern University, told the Business Standard that the university has to spend Tk1.5 crore per month on ancillary expenses including salaries. In contrast, the income has stopped since last April.
There are some expenditures like house rent, service bill and ancillary expenses that have to be continued. So, we are not able to pay the full salary. We are trying to provide as much as possible, he said.
He added that the present financial problems will be more acute in the future. The Association of Private Universities Bangladesh has already applied for a loan from the government.
However, he did not say how much financial loss was caused by Covid-19.
According to the University Grants Commission (UGC), there are nine private universities in Chattogram and the number of students is 40,000.
The private universities in Chattogram are International Islamic University (IIUC), University of Science and Technology Chittagong (USTC), Premier University, BGC Trust University, East Delta University, Port City International University, Southern University, Chittagong Independent University, and University of Creative Technology Chittagong.
Of this, Chittagong Independent University spends Tk10 lakhs per month on salaries of officials and employees. Since April, most of the students of the university have stopped paying tuition fees. About 750 students are admitted to CIU in three semesters a year. Two semesters have passed since the pandemic started and the admission of new students has decreased by 50 percent.
Mohiuddin Jewel, the public relations officer of the university told The Business Standard that many students have already told us that they are unable to pay tuition fees due to Covid-19. The authorities have formed a board to assist students in financial crisis.
East Delta University vice chancellor Sekender Khan told The Business Standard that students are usually admitted more after HSC which was not held this time. So, we have got very few students. Apart from this, existing students are not able to pay tuition properly. As no one funds private universities, the staff including teachers have to be paid with the university income.
When the income is off, salaries cannot be paid, which is normal, he added.