Exclusive interview with VC Prof Dr M Alimullah Miyan
Eminent educationist and founder Vice- Chancellor of International University of Business Agriculture and Technology (IUBAT) Prof Dr M Alimullah Miyan in an exclusive interview to businessnews24bd.com said, IUBAT ensures standard of education at the university through different processes and mechanisms that includes but not limited to up to date curriculum, qualified local and international teachers, effective course delivery, accountability of teachers and students, feedback systems for teachers and students, automated systems, career development, counseling and guidance, cooperation and exchange program with 80+ institutions covering all continents of the globe, membership with quality accreditation association and academic bodies, continued research and publication, semester-wise and annual appraisal systems, Thus, with all the processes and mechanism in place for assurance of standard, there is hardly anything left to chance as far as quality and standard is concerned at this university. The details of the interview is as follows
Q. How did you start your own career?
A: As to my educational career, I did matriculation from Dollai Nawabpur High School, Chandina, Commilla (1957), intermediate from Victoria College Comilla (1959), BCom Honours (1962) and MCom (1963) from University of Dhaka, MBA from Indiana University, USA (1968) as well as PhD from Manchester Business School, Victoria University of Manchester, UK (1976). I choose to be a lifelong teacher, an educational administrator as well as a researcher and started my professional career as a Lecturer of Commerce at Saadat College, Karatia, Tangail in 1963. Then I joined Dhaka University as a Research Associate under the Social Science Research Committee (1963-64). My progressive professional career at Dhaka University enabled me to serve as a Senior Lecturer, Assistant Professor, Founder Chairman of Centre for Population Management and Research (CPMR), Associate Professor of Institute of Business Administration (IBA) as well as Director and Professor of IBA. In the meantime, I served as a Visiting Professor at the Department of Vocational and Technical Education of the Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria in 1981. I founded IUBAT-International University of Business Agriculture and Technology in 1991 and became its President.
I have been serving as a Founder Vice-Chancellor of IUBAT since 1994. I have carried out extensive research and published on Human Resources and Business Management, Industrial Relations, Marketing, Statistics, Social Development Programs, Climate Change, Sustainability, Disaster Management, Coastal Zone Management, Family Planning, Energy Policy and Education as well as a Lead Author of the Special Report on Extreme Events and Climate Change, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Geneva, Switzerland. In addition, I have undertaken research and evaluation on Public Administration, Management Strategies for Small Business and Government, as well as Training’ Needs for the Health and Family Planning Sectors. My professional and research career give me the feel that I have been able to be what I wanted to be like teacher, writer, educational administrator, researcher and catalyst for social change.
Q. Do you think that non-government universities maintain standard of education and what about your own university?
A: I would l like to describe this in a different way. Firstly, educational standard is not something static; it’s dynamic and progressive meaning the standard ok today will not be ok for tomorrow. Secondly, while one hundred year old universities around the globe are striving to maintain educational standards, the history of non-government universities in Bangladesh is only of 25 years. Given the time-period elapsed since establishment, non-government universities have made remarkable achievements in standard of education. However, there have always been reporting on shortcomings of educational standard, not only in non-government universities but also in government universities.I become nostalgic on the issue of establishment of non-government universities in Bangladesh. I am the pioneer in spearheading the movement for establishment of non-government universities (NGUs) in Bangladesh. Being frustrated with an attempt to introduce BBA program at IBA, I started thinking about breaking the monopoly of the government in higher education in the country since 1980′s and this got a concrete shape when I was on a World Bank sponsored visit to USA and located in the campus of Kansas State University (KSU), Manhattan, Kansas USA for three weeks in 1989. In this visit, the thought came to me that why Bangladeshi universities are not useful to the society, while US universities are deeply involved in socio-economic fabric of their nation. This question haunted me and I held consultations with around 40 academics at the top levels of KSU and developed a concept paper for establishing an NGU in Bangladesh in collaboration of KSU. The paper was presented at a meeting of Deans and chaired by Provost of KSU and eventually KSU issued a formal letter of intent for establishing this university in Bangladesh.
On my return to Bangladesh, I shared this idea with the Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mr Hedayet Ahmed and formally applied to the Ministry of Education for establishment of this university in June, 1989. This happened to be first proposal to the Ministry on establishment of NGU and IUBAT file was opened in July 1989. I continued to carry on advocacy for law to establish NGUs in Bangladesh by contacting bureaucrats, politicians, diplomats and even religious leaders which eventually lead to pronouncement on legal framework for establishing NGUs in Bangladesh. In the meantime, IUBAT was established in January, 1991 by sharing charter of Assumption University at Bangkok and in collaboration with KSU, Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok and Virjee University of Brussels.(the Working Paper and related documents are available at http:/www.iubat.edu/wp.pdf). I also spent considerable time at the Jatiyo Shangshad Bhavan for lobbying for the Bill which was enacted as law in August, 1992. As to quality standard, IUBAT being the pioneer NGU in the country has been deeply concerned on standard of education since its inception in 1991.Our university IUBAT University being pioneer of non-government universities in Bangladesh and as a brainchild of Non-Government University Movement in Bangladesh that I prepared in 1980s (available online at http:/www.iubat.edu/wp.pdf), IUBAT is concerned about standard of education since its inception in 1991 and to address this issue it has an established unit called Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC). IUBAT ensures standard of education at the university through different processes and mechanisms that includes but not limited to up to date curriculum, qualified local and international teachers, effective course delivery, accountability of teachers and students, feedback systems for teachers and students, automated systems, career development, counseling and guidance, cooperation and exchange program with 80+ institutions covering all continents of the globe, membership with quality accreditation association and academic bodies, continued research and publication, semester-wise and annual appraisal systems, regular faculty development programs, fully equipped laboratories and libraries, standard faculty-student-staff ratio, a green permanent campus of 5.5 acres of land. Thus, with all the processes and mechanism in place for assurance of standard, there is hardly anything left to chance as far as quality and standard is concerned at this university.
Q. Are you facing any problem to run your university smoothly?
A: Shortage of qualified teacher in different disciplines is one of the most important problems. Therefore, the university needs to carry on rigorous faculty development programs. Another problem is relating to students’ qualification. The level of understanding, knowledge and skills of the students qualified for admission in the university are not up to the mark. Therefore, to level up, we need to carry on different mechanism like help sessions, consultation and counseling and guidance as well as realignment of courses to uplift the weak students to the expected level. Medium of instruction of the university is English but students come from diverse background. Therefore, the university needs to carry on intensive course on English. Q. Are you satisfied with the support of Government as well as University Grants Commission (UGC)? A: The Ministry of Education and the UGC are playing great role in promoting non-government universities that has resulted in establishment of 79 universities to accommodate our youths which is a great achievement. The Ministry and UGC have also created environment and framework for universities to function smoothly. Recently, the Ministry and UGC have also taken good initiative to improve quality in all universities in the country.However, more achievement is possible with more openness and cooperation from the government and UGC. Policy issues that are creating management vacuum as well as imposing additional burden like tax and VAT on the universities should be addressed through tripartite discussions and debates among universities, government and the UGC. Such issues have been communicated with the Ministry of Education and respected Minister has shown keen interest to solve the same amicably. One of the great achievements of such tripartite discussions and debates is initiation of National Accreditation Council for all universities in Bangladesh.
Q. According to you, what steps should be taken by the Government to make non-government universities more accountable and dynamic.
A: The government can address the policy issues arising out of administrative orders beyond laws which are creating vacuum in the operation of universities like appointment of Vice-Chancellor, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Treasurer. Another policy issue is restriction on appointment of any Member of the Governing Body/Board of Trustees of a University to the Position of Vice-Chancellor, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Treasurer. This restriction is also beyond law and is responsible for creating static situation. Only 10.6% of our youth get access to higher education and education in the non-government universities is mostly financed by the students and the government can address the repercussions on access to higher education by withdrawing Tax and value added tax (VAT) from the non-government universities.
The Ministry of Education has put an embargo on introduction of MPhil and PhD programs in non-government universities in 1990s during the period of Caretaker Government. This embargo has negative impact on dynamisms of the universities since this prohibits development of qualified teachers. This embargos should be withdrawn to allow non-government universities to achieve excellence in research and development. However, all these issue have been taken up with the Ministry of Education by the universities and the Association of Non-Government Universities of Bangladesh (ANUB) and are under active consideration of the respected Minister. We are optimistic that positive steps on our request to the Ministry will bring more dynamisms among non-government universities nay higher education in the country.
Q; Why your institution/university is different from others?
A: Some of the aspects that make IUBAT distinguished one includes but not limited to movement of non-government university in Bangladesh, internationalization through memorandum of understanding with 80+ institutions of higher education throughout the globe, outreach to all 64 districts and 501 Upazillas/Thanas out of 508 of Bangladesh under Knowledge Based Area Development: A Step Toward Community Self Reliance (KBAD) (http:/ www.iubat.edu/kbad/index.htm), the processes and mechanisms in place for assuring quality of education as well as the academic setting that includes the features: n Permanent campus on 5.5 acres of own landn Specially designed by a British architect for a university of the 21st centuryn Healthy environment with scenic beauty on the bank of river Turagn Classes with individualized instructionn Record of scheduled classes that meet consistentlyn English skills developed in all studentsn Computer training for all studentsn Well equipped laboratories for all programsn Excellent national and international faculty including resident faculty from North America and European Union countries and Australian Linkages with many universities with credit transfer and higher study facilitiesn International standard learning experiencen Professional counseling and guidancen Considerable research and publication activitiesn Publication reward policy for the faculty n Financial support through scholarship, grant, fee waiver, deferred payment, campus job, special offer, student loan, etcn Career guidance with practicum and job placement at home and abroadn Extracurricular activitiesn Own playing fieldn Part of modern Uttara residential arean Assistance in finding accommodation at reasonable cost in the localityn Well connected with all sections of metropolitan Dhaka and neighboring townsn Evening classes for MBA and engineering degree programsn Free transportation from city points, Savar, Gazipur and Kaligonj to campus(30 buses)n Free shuttle service in Uttara and Tongin Wi-Fi covered campusn Student Group Health Insurance of up to Tk. 100,000 per year per student Thus, I feel, IUBAT is maintaining a distinguished position through combination of ensuring quality at the same time making higher education inclusive education in this university.
Q. Who is the sponsor or what is the funding source of your university?
A: I am the Founder of IUBAT. Initial funding came out of meager resource but the university earned the required fund through training and advisory activities in the initial years. It is now a self funding university. Tuition from students, training and consultancy fees as well external research funding are the major sources of funding for the university.