The vice-chancellors of 35 public universities observed that the chaos created at the Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) demanding the removal of its VC is a conspiracy.
They also termed the demand for resignation of the SUST vice-chancellor "unethical".
The 35 vice-chancellors put forth this observation in an urgent virtual meeting held to discuss the ongoing situation at SUST, said a statement issued by the Association of Universities of Bangladesh.
Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman, vice chancellor of Dhaka University; Habibur Rahman, vice chancellor of Dhaka University of Engineering and Technology (DUET); Prof Golam Sabbir Sattar, vice chancellor of Rajshahi University; Dr Shireen Akhter, vice chancellor of Chattogram University; Professor Dr Farzana Islam, vice chancellor of Jahangirnagar University; Prof Dr Mohammad Rafiqul Alam, vice chancellor of Chittagong University of Science and Technology (CUET); Farid Uddin Ahmed, vice chancellor of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST); Anwar Hossain, vice chancellor of Jeshore University of Science and Technology (JUST); Professor Dr Md Sadequl Arefin, vice chancellor of Barishal University; Swadesh Chandra Samanta, vice chancellor of Patuakhali University of Science and Technology (PUST), Md Mashiur Rahman, vice chancellor of National University; Md Imdadul Hoque, vice chancellor of Jagannath University, Prof Mahmood Hossain, vice chancellor of Khulna University; Md Rafiqul Islam Sheikh, vice chancellor of Rajshahi University of Science and Technology (RUET) attended the meeting.
"The ongoing protest seems to be a part of a conspiracy to destroy the education system by creating an anarchic situation in SUST as well as other educational institutes," reads the statement.
The association thinks that any problem can be solved through discussions, it states.
Commenting on the statement, Sadia Afrin, one of the protesting student at SUST, said the vice-chancellors' statement proves that they are not student-friendly at all.
"We are not surprised but outraged by their statement," she said.
Another student, Mohaiminul Bashar, said: "I am skeptical of the VCs' statement defending the VC (Farid Uddin) who shoots at the students and keeps lying. The VCs want to form syndicate and take us hostage. However, we will not withdraw from the movement until the demand is met."
Meanwhile, local Awami League leaders in Sylhet expressed solidarity with the movement on campus.
Awami League Central Organisational Secretary Shafiul Alam Nadel declined to comment on the statement from the VCs.
However, he noted the students should become more flexible.
"They need to keep the door open for discussion. If they do not go to the logical discussion and stick to the one-point demand, then it will bear no fruit," he told The Business Standard.
Earlier on Saturday, teachers' representatives of SUST held a meeting with Education Minister Dipu Moni at the minister's residence in the capital.
Following the meeting, Dipu Moni urged the protesting SUST students to withdraw from their hunger strike and sit for talks to address the standoff.
Since 19 January, 24 students have been on a hunger strike demanding the resignation of the university vice-chancellor (VC) Farid Uddin Ahmed.
Before that, students began protests to demand the resignation of the Provost of the Begum Sirajunnesa Chowdhury Hall Zafrin Ahmed Liza after she allegedly 'misbehaved' with a student.
Though she was eventually removed, students have continued their campaign to press for the resignation of the vice-chancellor Farid Uddin Ahmed after police used batons and tear shells and fired shots to break up a protest.