The university is monitored and controlled by the OIC, the UGC does not have jurisdiction
The Islamic University of Technology (IUT) has been taking advantage of its autonomy from government institutions to flout various regulations and guidelines, sources at the IUT administration and University Grants Commission (UGC) have said.
Examples of a breach of regulations by the university include its ignoring of UGC accreditation for much of its existence and inadequate action on complaints from students, the sources added.
IUT is funded by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and regarded as a subsidiary organ of the OIC. The university was established following a decision reached at the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (ICFM) in 1978.
As a result of its organizational structure, IUT is completely monitored and controlled by OIC management. Unlike other universities in the country, the chancellor of IUT is the OIC secretary general and not the Bangladesh president.
Asking to remain anonymous, an official of the IUT administration said the university only got UGC accreditation last year despite such accreditation being mandatory for any university to operate in the country.
“IUT is not required to have accreditation from any local authority. It only applied for it after students started putting pressure for it,” the official added.
Meanwhile, officials from the UGC said the organizational structure of IUT made it difficult to hold it accountable for failing to form a Sexual Harassment Prevention Committee.
Mouli Azad, member secretary of the Sexual Harassment Prevention Committee of the UGC, said: “The High Court guidelines only identify all public and private universities of Bangladesh. IUT, being an international organization-funded university, gets away on a technicality. If students are suffering harassment, action must be taken.”
The Secondary & Higher Education Division under the Ministry of Education also does not have any official authority over IUT.
AKM Aftab Hossain Pramanik, additional secretary (universities) of the division, said: “IUT’s management committee is completely governed by the OIC. Representatives from the Education Ministry are sometimes invited to their managerial meetings, but that’s nothing official.”
When asked who would be held responsible if something happened to Bangladeshi students at IUT, the official said: “We can intervene if the safety and security of the students are in danger, but we cannot become involved in the academic or managerial decisions of IUT.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for maintaining liaison between the OIC and IUT. The ministry also said that the agreement with the OIC did not allow any Bangladeshi institution to oversee the operations of IUT.
Wahida Ahmed, director general of the International Organizations wing of the Foreign Ministry, said: “From the very beginning of IUT, no Bangladeshi authority was ever involved with the management of the university.”
The land in Gazipur where IUT is situated was donated by the Bangladesh government to the OIC. The land for constructing the women’s dormitory was also donated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina two years ago, upon the OIC’s request.
Meanwhile, the IUT alumni association has condemned media attention on what it termed such a delicate issue.
President of IUT Alumni Association Dr Nazmul Arefin said: “We strongly believe the IUT administration is capable of taking proper steps regarding any incident inside the campus, irrespective of gender.”
However, some notable alumni reached out to the correspondent, including Rishad Sharif, Tamzid Azad, and Kabir Ahmed, the last of whom also happens to be a former faculty member of IUT.
“The recent issues raised around gender disparity are concerning and we expect the IUT authority to take appropriate action to ensure that IUT remains as one of the top educational institutions of our country,” said Kabir Ahmed.