Private vs. public university
Is space important for a university?
Scene 1: Zerin is studying Pharmacy at East West University. The university is located at city's Mohakhali commercial area. Between her classes, she sometimes loiters about in different towers of the university or browses Internet in one of the computer labs of the university. Her campus does not have open space for games or cultural programmes, students either go to nearby playground or use indoor facilities only. Zerin has almost forgotten the need of a big campus the public universities have.
Scene 2: Asha is a student of Political Science at Dhaka University. The vast campus has given her liberty of moving freely on the campus. She moves freely on the big campus. She often takes parts in group study in any suitable place of the campus. Students in her university has spacious internal playground or open space for games or cultural progrmames. She cannot think of a small campus the private universities have.
That a university can be without big space became clear to us when several private universities started operation within some buildings or towers. The oldest private universities like the North South University or Independent University are yet to move to their own campuses. International Islamic University Chittagong is one of the very few private universities that have a big campus of its own. The famous private universities are trying to shift to their own campuses, but all these are still a matter of time.
The space constraint of the private universities has forced the students to move within a limited space. Thus their interaction with other students, games and other extra-curricular activities have been under threat. They cannot take part in all these activities. These students find Internet in the labs of the universities more interesting. Small canteens and not-very-spacious corridors are a good means of interaction with their friends. They have adjusted themselves with the harsh reality. "We have accepted the reality. We cannot expect a big campus since there is space constraint in Dhaka city itself," said Shuvo, a student of BBA at BRAC University.
The big space of a public university offers students ample opportunities for interaction and extra-curricular activities. They might not have Internet facility the way private university students have, but their big space helps them mix with huge number of students.
"A university should have the appearance of the universe. A university should have a big space. Otherwise how will the students have big mind?" said Shanta, an MBA student of Khulna University. The need for space was also spelt out by Alamgir Hossain, a student of Psychology in Dhaka University. He commented: "The more someone moves, the better one's attitude becomes. Our private universities do not give students the chance to move, how will the students develop intellectually? How can a private university offer sports and cultural facilities for the students?"
These days students of many private university have stopped complaining about the space. They have grown up within the four walls of their homes, within the limited space of school or college, and now they are again within the limited space of their university. "What else can we think about? We have accepted this reality," said Kanchon Dewan, an MBA student of International Islamic University, Chittagong.
In this Internet age, some educationists do not consider space a vital issue for a university. "Consideration of a big space is a hindrance to the growth of private universities in Bangladesh. Today students can take many facilities from the Internet, the way students and teachers at my university are taking advantage of it right now. Our students are in constant touch with their teachers both offline and online," said Prof. Anwar Hossain, dean of business administration in American International University-Bangladesh.