Case 1: Belal Hossain is a student of MBA in International Islamic University Chittagong-Dhaka campus. He faces difficult time at the beginning of every semester. The problem is managing money for the new semester. He is to borrow the money from some friends or to bring it from home, which he hates, the most, for father is gradually becoming unable bear his educational expenses. The beginning days of a new semester are really horrible for him. The tension begins much earlier, when his previous semester exam is going to end.
Scene 2: Siza is a student of BBA at North South University. Her father is a high official in a foreign airlines company. At the beginning of every semester, her father sends money for her and she pays her tuition fees to the university very comfortably. She does not have any tension about the tuition fee. But as she completes the semesters one after another, she feels that she should not take any more money from her father. But she feels it only for a few days, when the dates of paying the tuition fee approach. Later she forgets it. She again concentrates on her studies.
Scene 3: Muna is a student of BBA at the Institute of Business Administration at Dhaka University. Every year she has to pay around twenty thousand taka to the authority of IBA. Before getting admitted into the institute she did not have the slightest idea that such a huge payment has to be made every year to a public university. Her father is working in a pharmaceutical company. Managing this money for IBA becomes difficult for her. Still she can manage. Recently she has started tutoring students and is has planning to pay the money herself.
High tuition fee, it seems, has become the norm everywhere, be it a public or a private university. In public universities, however, students in disciplines other than BBA or MBA have to pay very little.
How do the students of private universities manage their tuition fee?
Those who are fortunate enough manage it from their parents. Situation gets more difficult for those whose parents are not financially solvent.
"I get only Tk. 7000 as my salary from my bank. I have to run my family and pay the university authority from that amount. It becomes really difficult. Often I have to take loans. This is a real pain. I feel I shouldn't have got admitted into a private university," said Jahangir Alam, a private university MBA student who is in his third semester.
There are students who have started taking loans from the bank. Asaduzzaman is such a student. He took loan from Standard Chartered Bank and he is paying installments every month. "Continuing the job and studies at the same time are too difficult for me. Still I have no other option. I really repent why I was not serious about Dhaka University admission test for MBA," said a repentant Asad.
These day private universities are offering tuition fee waiver for those who are performing well in the previous semester. This is a big incentive for many students.
Private universities, in most of the cases, have also their on-campus job facilities. Students are doing the job of counseling or helping in administrative matter and they are managing their own expenses from these part time jobs.
Even there are universities, which are making a routine for the part time jobholders. Farzana is doing her honours in English Literature at Eastern University and she is also teaching in an English medium school. Her teachers have accepted the reality and they often arranges make-up classes for her.
Those who are taking money from guardians are also not necessarily in a good shape. "Initially my father thought it won't be a problem, but things are getting difficult for him. With the inflation in the country, our family expenditure has increased and he really faces tough time when time for paying tuition fee comes," said Barkat, a private university computer science and engineering student.
To save themselves from the torture of tuition fees, many students are getting admitted into the public universities. A Dhaka University student has to pay only Tk.20-50 per month as their tuition fee. "I knew I would be trapped in session jam, still I got admitted here because I knew it well I could not go for a private university," said Rabiul Islam, a student of applied physics in Dhaka University.
True, students of MBA or BBA in a public university sometimes have to pay 'a bit high' tuition fee. For example, a student of MBA at IBA, Dhaka University has to pay some Tk. 10,000 every year. The fee is increasing every year. "When I got admitted two years back, I only had to pay Tk.5000. Last year I paid TK.7000 and this year I have to pay TK.10, 000. I was not prepared for all these," said Polash, an MBA student at IBA who is also doing a job in a financial organisation.
When asked why IBA is charging this much from students, a professor of IBA, on condition of anonymity said: "We have to spend for running the activities of IBA. We get very little money from the authority. So we are bound to take the money from the students."
When the money crisis is acute, students of private universities have to drop one semester. "This is really painful when I have to drop a semester, my friends are going ahead and I cannot cope up with them only because I don't have the money," said Farhana, who is doing her BBA in a private university in the Dhanmondi area of the city.
The offer of part-time jobs within the campus or tuition fee waiver for both meritorious and poor students-all these are not enough for many middle class students who want to pursue education in a private university. Universities need to ensure more assistance to these students by creating more part-time jobs, flexi-routine and scholarships.