We simply must put greater focus on research
Universities impart education and degrees upon students, but this visible part of academic activity -- coursework, syllabi, grade point averages -- comprises only of a small part of the true scope of an institution of higher education. The brightest academic careers go above and beyond teaching. In fact, many brilliant academics do not enjoy teaching or see it as the best use of their time, for their interests lie in research.
For an academic to wholly engage with research in their field, though, they need full support of their institution. The university, then, must make research a priority alongside day-to-day classroom activities. In this regard, sadly, Bangladesh lags behind, a fact that is reflected in our poor showing in the global arena when it comes to research.
A new report shows just how poorly we fare when it comes to research compared to our neighbouring countries -- India and Pakistan.
Last year, Indian researchers had 199,261 publications, while Pakistani researchers had 28,612. Contrast this with Bangladesh, where about 8,000 scholarly articles were published internationally -- 760 of them coming from the University of Dhaka. Even adjusted for the populations of these countries, Bangladesh’s performance in this area leaves a lot to be desired.
Our poor showing in research has worrying ramification for this country. More and more young, qualified academics are seeking to move to foreign shores, where research is valued more. In scientific fields particularly, funding for research is paramount, and it is natural that academics will want to go where they can work freely in the area of their interest.
If we wish the retain the best academic talent of this country, and push forward the sum total of knowledge instead of rehashing old curricula, we simply must put greater focus on research. The coronavirus pandemic, which has dealt us such a severe blow in so many ways, can then be seen as an opportunity, because more research than ever, in the fields of health or policy, for example, is now needed.