"Liberal arts is at the root of all disciplines of education"
- Kazi Shahid Ahmed
The University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) inaugurated its new building in Dhanmondi with state of the art modern classroom facilities and rich library, IT lab and media lab. The new campus is in resonance with the mission of the University, which is to provide quality education for developing young minds for serving the nation with maximum utilization of their potential and talent. Mr. Kazi Shahid Ahmed, the Vice Chancellor of ULAB, shared his views about the University with the Star Campus team.
SC: What inspired you to invest in the education sector?
KSH: I passed from the University of Lahore in Engineering. Education has been in my family for a long time and we always cherished the importance of quality education in our family. In my student life I had the privilege of pursuing my education on full scholarship. In 1960's the government used to spend around 86 thousand rupees on the students, which today would be a lot of money. It was natural that many students were deprived of education due to lack of facilities and resources. Later, when I started my own business I tried to induce education in every level for my employees, as I always believe in educated and skilled human resources. Therefore, taking all these factors into consideration I decided to establish a University that will ensure quality education to the young minds of the nation and help them develop into good and responsible citizens.
SC: Why University of liberal arts?
KSH: Liberal arts is at the root of all disciplines of education. Many popular disciplines like Medical Science, Engineering, Management, and Social Sciences are the offshoot of liberal arts. Liberal arts do not mean performing arts but a solid foundation in core subjects. I believe, for proper education a student besides his desired major needs to acquire knowledge in other disciplines too. In our university we have mandated the students to take courses like English, Bangla, Computer Studies, Bangladesh Studies and World History irrespective of their major of interest. The undergraduate level provides a platform for students to expand their personal and intellectual horizons. It would be difficult to do if the students are not exposed to courses from other disciplines. Alongside the compulsory courses the students have the option for choosing courses according to their interest. After the completion of the second year we provide counseling to the students for choosing majors according to their ability and interest. In this university we have integrated different pertinent elements of education for proper learning of the students. We organize extra curricular activities on a regular basis such as debates and sports with a major emphasis on developing the English communication skills of the students. I believe that the modern and integrated education program of ULAB will help our students to excel in life and prepare them to face all the challenges of the modern era.
SC: Do you think private universities can progress in this country despite all the criticism?
KSH: The private university sector is the most booming education sector of our country because we do not have any other way out. Most of the popular universities of the world belong to the private sector. The advent of so many private universities in Bangladesh is a very positive sign for the development of Bangladesh. More and more students are getting the chance for higher education. For instance Bangalore has around 2000 universities, most of which belong to the private sector. Most of the citizens of Bangalore are educated and it has transformed itself into one of the most important technological hubs of the world. This was only possible because of the availability of education. In Bangladesh we need more universities and the government should facilitate the growth of these universities, but definitely under strict rules and regulation. The education sector takes time to develop and it is a continuous process. The private university sector in Bangladesh is not very old yet it is providing world-class education. I believe that with the passage of time only those universities will survive that will provide quality education. I am definitely hopeful that the private universities will play a vital role in developing educated and skilled human resources in Bangladesh.
SC: What are your future dreams about ULAB?
KSH: We are only in the second year of our establishment yet we are getting very good feedback and performance from our students and faculties. ULAB is not a business house but an education institute and we are committed to provide quality education. We want to provide all the necessary facilities for the students for excelling in their lives.
Our goal is excellence in education. We do not believe in head count but in quality education. We maintain quality in every facet of the academic activities of ULAB and we want to stay that way by ensuring excellence in education.
- Interviewed by Arif Ashraf Nayan
(R) thedailystar.net 2006