Dhaka Courier

Dear VC, don’t pay to get a ranking

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A major DU teacher and academia politician Prof. Shibli Rubaiyat-ul-Islam has said that Dhaka University (DU) was denied a place in the recently ranking published of Asian Universities as it didn’t pay the money to get there. Speaking at a DU alumni gathering in the UK, Prof. Islam also said that given the significance of the world rankings, they were going to allocate the money in their budget the next year to run the ranking race.  As expected, this has caused considerable discussions on social media. Many are making fun as well but the fact that the non-ranking of DU is an issue is clear. That it can be overcome by paying dues problems has clouded the situation more.

Bangladesh’s top University DU didn’t figure in the list of top 200 of Asian universities. Many are rankled that even Nepal did and Pakistan had many but not Bangladesh. But people have not noticed that the listed ones are conventional Universities while DU is a new development, an educational intuition where nurturing party politics is also a critical objective. It’s a politico-educational institution. That is why it should not be fair put all at the same level and measure.

But this bit about money?

Ever since DU failed to make the list, there have been many comments about it.  The institution which did the ranking has some reputation globally and those ranked include universities from all over Asia including India and China.  What has confused people is what the comment made by Prof. Islam implied.  Many have read it, maybe in error maybe not- that if anyone pays money they can have access to the ranking list and get ahead depending on payment. The Professor has added oxygen to the blaze by saying that had DU paid the dues, it would have been included. The co-relationship between payment and ranking was actually made by the DU teacher himself.

He also said that DU is a great University with many achievements and crowns and it’s natural that it would be included once payments are made. However, according to him, DU spent the money on its needy students and thus failed to catch the ranking bus. In other words, it’s a failure of payment not quality. He strengthened it further by claiming that DU will make payments next year as it now sees that global rankings do matter.

How else can people conclude other than thinking that what makes the difference is money?

Is it bribe or registration fees?

It was mentioned that an x amount has to be paid plus annual dues. It’s therefore possible that various Universities have to register itself to be put into the ranking race.  One is not sure but this might make sense as it’s a professional activity with dues for entry. It certainly is not a bribe or greasing business as many think. It’s just that the DU politician has no skill of public talking or explaining. That public discussion on such a major sensitive issue can have implications beyond the immediate audience simply escaped him.

But the problem is elsewhere. How can the DU administration be sure that it will get a ranking even if the dues are paid and they qualify for an assessment? Nobody in their right mind would think that the DU is a splendid academic facility where the focus is on education. It’s about many things but not just education. It’s largely if not primarily about association with ruling class civilian politics.

Paying money may not help

What has happened is the loss of credibility of the DU and it will lose if it pays or lose if it doesn’t pay. If it pays and does get in it has a risk of actually qualifying as a good University. Various people are asking including DU teachers that the entry competition is not just about registration fees but that some qualifications need to be fulfilled. DU is known for its politics and violence not academic brilliance.

Historically, it has never claimed to be an intellectual institution but a political one for its role in 1952 language movement (Bhasha andolon), 1969 movement, 1990 or 2007 etc. but nobody can accuse DU of being a serious academic achiever. So it’s an undue risk which should be avoided. Suppose it doesn’t make the ranking even after payment of dues?

It’s much better not to pay and keep saying that DU doesn’t get ranked because it’s not paying the money asked for. It can pose itself as a noble institution which will not compromise on integrity and honesty. Plus it can spend the money on various political causes which will no doubt make it more significant.

What it in fact can do is to set up its own ranking list and come out top. It can even charge money to others and always come first. That way, it can subsidize the sa, sop, singara even more. That’s probably more important as a brand right now.

  • Dear VC, don’t pay to get a ranking
  • Afsan Chowdhury
  • Vol 35
  • Issue 46
  • DhakaCourier

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