- Dhaka University will open
Libraries on 26 September
Residential halls on 5 October
- Only honours fourth year, masters students will be allowed in DU libraries and halls.
- The Shahjalal University of Science and Technology is taking preparation start in-person classes soon.
- Private universities will resume in-person classes in October
- Primarily they will make arrangements to operate both in-person and online classes
- They will allow unvaccinated students to attend classes virtually from their homes
- Student enrollment in at least 40 private universities decreased 70% in the spring semester
The countries' public universities will gradually reopen their campuses from 5 October, while the private universities will resume in-person classes from the fall semester starting in October, said sources.
The respective academic councils of the private universities will decide whether they will resume in-person classes fully or partially.
Primarily the universities will make arrangements to operate both in-person and online classes. They will allow unvaccinated students to attend classes virtually from their homes until they receive vaccines.
The private universities will put emphasis on health safety and they will take all the measures to implement the health guideline in line with the World Health Organisation and the health ministry's direction.
Professor Dr Atiqul Islam, vice-chancellor of North South University, told The Business Standard his university's in-person classes for fall semester will start following the ending of the summer semester on 7 October.
"We are ready to resume in-person classes but we cannot do it before all the students and teachers are vaccinated. We will start in-person classes partially if we find that 50% of the students have been vaccinated. Rest of the students will attend classes online," he said.
"We are highly concerned about the students' health and safety. We will not allow students of semester to come to the campus every day. We will take classes in each department for two days a week considering the health safety," he added.
Professor Dr Atiqul Islam said they have made arrangements to provide vaccines to the students but they could not secure the vaccines doses.
The private universities will start the final examinations for the summer semester from the first week of October and end them on 20 October.
There are 108 private universities in Bangladesh, and they have more than 3.6 lakh undergraduate and graduate students. More than 16,000 teachers and 13,000 employees are working at those institutions.
Professor Dr Chowdhury Mofizur Rahman, vice-chancellor of United International University, told TBS they will start the fall semester after 15 October and the students must attend the classes in person.
"We have asked the students to take vaccines as soon as possible. We cannot allow any student to come to class without vaccination. I hope our students will be able to get vaccines before starting in-person classes," he said.
Professor Dr Md Alamgir, member of the University Grants Commission, told TBS the private universities will not need to take any permission to reopen their campuses.
"There is no bar to reopen the private universities now. Any university can start the in-person classes if they think they are ready to do so following health safety," he said.
Private universities now in economic shock
The private universities have long been considered a booming business, evident in their abundance in the urban areas. But aside from a few top-notch institutions, many of those universities are now struggling with financial issues triggered by the Covid-19 restrictions.
Some of the more solvent universities have been regularly paying salaries to their teachers and staff since they shut down in March last year. But even these universities do not have the funds to continue operations in such a way if the pandemic lingers on, the insiders said.
Families of countless students have been hit hard financially by the income shock, making it difficult for the learners to enroll in new semesters, pay tuition fees and bear other related expenses. This loss of their only source of revenue has become an existential threat to several institutions.
Sheikh Kabir Hossain, president of Association of Private Universities of Bangladesh, told TBS, "The enrollment of fresh students into at least 40 private universities in the spring semester has decreased by 70% when compared year-on-year."
"The majority of these institutions are just trying to survive the crisis, and their financial situation is dire. We are building the future generation of Bangladesh, who will rise to serve the nation in the coming days. The government should offer its support to this sector," he said.
Reopening public universities
The Dhaka University libraries and residential halls will open on 26 September and 5 October respectively.
The libraries and halls will open for honours fourth year and masters students only.
The decisions were made at an emergency meeting of the Dhaka University syndicate chaired by Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman.
Honours fourth year and masters students, who have received at least the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, will be able to enter the library and the residential halls by showing the vaccination card or certificate and valid university identity card to the authorities concerned.
The students will be able to use the central library, science library and seminar libraries of the departments and institutes from 10am to 5pm from 26 September.
The residential students will be able to enter their respective halls from 8am on 5 October. Officers and employees providing various services to the students also have to keep the vaccination certificate with them.
Subject to vaccination, the residential halls will be opened for honours first, second and third year students in phases. Only regular residential students will be accommodated in the halls in accordance with the hygiene rules.
The Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) is preparing to reopen the university and start in-person classes soon.
Professor Farid Uddin Ahmed, vice-chancellor of SUST, told TBS most of their students and teachers have received vaccines. Now they will hold an academic meeting for take the decision to reopen the university.