Rajshahi University has way more PhDs, professors

Astounding 83% teachers have PhD and 60% of them are professors

Fatema Tuz Zinia

Bonik Barta graph

Philosophy department of Rajshahi University (RU) has 21 teachers. Of them, 16 have PhD. And, all of them did their doctorate at RU. Philosophy department is not unique in this regard. Rather, it is more or less the same in all other departments.

At present, the percentage of teachers with PhD is the highest at RU. According to annual report of the University Grants Commission (UGC), there are 1,081 teachers in the university. Of them, 896 teachers have PhD, which is almost 83 percent. Majority of those without PhD have completed MPhil or equivalent. And, majority of them have done this here at RU.

Not only PhD degrees, the percentage of full professors is also the highest in RU. As per UGC information, 648 out of 1,081 teachers are professors which represents about 60 percent. There are 305 associate professors and 109 assistant professors while the number of lecturers stands at only 19.

Despite the fact that over 80 percent of RU teachers have PhD and nearly 60 percent are professors, ranking of the institution is not that good among the universities of the country. In the ranking of Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), a United Kingdom-based research organization, RU is placed at number 8 among the universities in Bangladesh. When it comes to Asia, its position is 451.        

Educationists observe that the number of PhDs offered by the universities in the country is abnormal. The PhD degree has been made easy in the country. As a result, the standard of the research is questioned. In developed countries, teachers have to engage in research extensively alongside teaching to get promoted as professors. But, in Bangladesh, teachers with long teaching career can be made professors without any significant research by their names. Therefore, the country is getting more university professors, not quality researchers.            

Dhaka University Professor Emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury believes teachers without quality research and sound understanding should not be promoted as professors. “Making professors should be made difficult. The number of professors at some universities is high while that number is very low at private universities or universities in districts. Professors do not want to go there. On the other hand, PhD degree has been made very easy. We often hear the allegation of plagiarism in research papers which is not desirable. Creativity and efficient supervisors are essential to ensure quality research,” he told Bonik Barta.  

Analyzing the information on RU teachers with PhD, it has been found that a staggering 90 percent of the teachers belonging to arts faculty have completed their degree at the very university.

When contacted, Dr Belal Hossain, dean of RU arts faculty, told Bonik Barta, “Fund is the main problem in doing PhD abroad. It is not easy to get scholarship for the arts subjects. And, most of the teachers cannot afford to go abroad without scholarship. So, they choose to do the PhD at home. But, we always encourage doing PhD abroad, as it expands their horizons.”

Majority of the teachers of departments belonging to faculties of social science, business studies, law, agriculture, biology and fine arts completed their PhD from RU. Of course, science and engineering faculties are exception.

Teachers of the university claim that the standard of PhD here is alright. Since the inception, institute of Bangladesh studies have awarded PhD to 407 persons. Najimul Hoque, director of the institute, said, “Considering the structure of the institute, this is one of best organizations in the country. We always try to ensure research of international standard. Overall, we are satisfied with our PhD.”        

Like PhD, the university has a lot of professors although the number of new teachers or lecturers is negligible. For example, out of 35 teachers at the chemistry department, 32 are professors, 2 associate professors and one assistant professor. There is no lecturer in the department. Chemistry department is not exception here. The scenario is somewhat same in other departments.

Dr Pranab Kumar Panday, RU teachers’ association president, feels that existing rules and reality of the day are the main reasons behind the current state. “Every university of our country has its own rules regarding the promotion of teachers. According to rules of nearly all universities, a teacher can be a professor if they teach for a certain period of time and have one or two publications. The standard of research does not have that much of an impact here. This is why the number of professors is increasing very rapidly in the universities that are little bit old,” he told Bonik Barta.

Analysis shows that the maximum number of professors is at science faculty with 142 professors out of 174 teachers. Arts faculty is in the second position with 116 professors among 153 teachers. Besides, the percentage of professors in departments of social science, business studies, law and fine arts faculties is over 50. Only, the engineering faculty has less than 50 percent professors.

As far as the departments are concerned, only 11 out of 59 disciplines have one or two lecturers. The remaining 48 departments have no lecturers. At social work department, all the 21 teachers are professors. There are 34 professors out of 38 teachers at the biochemistry and molecular biology department. Chemistry has 32 professors from 35 teachers. Besides, the percentage of professors at six departments under faculties of science, arts and social science is over 80.                      

Despite repeated attempts, RU Vice-Chancellor Dr Golam Shabbir Sattar could not be reached for his comments.

RU Pro Vice-Chancellor Dr Humayun Kabir said, “The number of lecturers in our university is low because there has been no recruitment for a long time. And, teachers are becoming professors proving their qualifications set by the university. Many of them are quality researchers. But, there should be more researches.”

“I would not say that every PhD that we awarded is good. We must improve the standard. WE encourage doing PhD abroad so that our institutions can be enriched. But, we have had some questionable appointments in our way whose qualifications were not up to standard. They have undertaken teaching only as a mere job.”

There should be more emphasis on research when it comes to promotion of the teachers, thinks Dr Abul Kalam Azad, former Dhaka University vice-chancellor and former chairman of UGC. “In order to ensure quality education, more importance should be attached to research when teachers are promoted. But, it cannot be done only through guidelines. Allocation for education needs to go up. Financial assistance for good researchers should be ensured,” he said.    


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