Bangladesh: Public Private Partnership in Higher Education

Sovereign Project | 45181-001

Summary

The objective of the small scale capacity development technical assistance (S-CDTA): Public-Private Partnerships for Higher Education is to raise the awareness and reach a shared understanding of stakeholders on the knowledge economy and the role of higher education in leading Bangladesh to face the global competition in knowledge economy. Various options of public private partnership (PPP) and university-industry linkages - both international and regional best practices and home-grown innovations - will be introduced and discussed among the stakeholders as tangible ways to foster relevance of higher education in generating the market-oriented skills and applied research needed to maintain economic competitiveness. The S-CDTA will identify and work closely with the champions that can render leadership role at the government, academic community and private sector, and can influence public opinions.

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Project Name Public Private Partnership in Higher Education
Project Number 45181-001
Country Bangladesh
Project Status Closed
Project Type / Modality of Assistance Technical Assistance
Source of Funding / Amount
TA 7960-BAN: Public Private Partnership in Higher Education
Technical Assistance Special Fund US$ 225,000.00
Strategic Agendas Inclusive economic growth
Drivers of Change Governance and capacity development
Private sector development
Sector / Subsector

Education - Tertiary

Gender Equity and Mainstreaming Some gender elements
Description The objective of the small scale capacity development technical assistance (S-CDTA): Public-Private Partnerships for Higher Education is to raise the awareness and reach a shared understanding of stakeholders on the knowledge economy and the role of higher education in leading Bangladesh to face the global competition in knowledge economy. Various options of public private partnership (PPP) and university-industry linkages - both international and regional best practices and home-grown innovations - will be introduced and discussed among the stakeholders as tangible ways to foster relevance of higher education in generating the market-oriented skills and applied research needed to maintain economic competitiveness. The S-CDTA will identify and work closely with the champions that can render leadership role at the government, academic community and private sector, and can influence public opinions. It will assist the government and ADB in identifying priority areas and potential interventions based on the recommendations by the stakeholders.
Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy

Bangladesh has been enjoying steady economic growth at 6 to 7% per annum in recent years with a per capita income reaching $1,700 (adjusted by purchasing power parity). It has been identified as the Next-11, or 11 countries with a high potential of becoming, along with the BRICS, the world's largest economies in the 21st century. It has a population of 158.6 million (2011 estimate). The population is young (median age of 23.3 years in 2009) and provides a large workforce of 73.87 million and an estimated 22 million new entrants between 2005 and 2015. Unemployment rate is estimated at 5.1% in 2010, but underemployment is high at 28.7% and youth unemployment rate is over 13%. Remittances from more than 5 million overseas workers amount to 12% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009. Its abundant human resources have great potential for boosting Bangladesh's economic growth, but challenges remain in turning the young and growing population into a skilled and productive workforce.

The Government's sixth Five Year Plan emphasizes accelerating economic growth-productive employment (high income jobs in formal sector)-poverty reduction nexus, and stresses the needs to address both demand and supply sides of human resources. As the goal as well as the means of national development, the Government continues to make education of the masses one of its top priorities, especially at primary and secondary level. Bangladesh achieved 93.9% net enrolment ratio at primary level in 2009. However, secondary and tertiary level enrolment rates are below the South Asian average, and quality remains a significant issue to address. In the global knowledge economy, higher education has a crucial role in nurturing human capital that will fuel economic growth, lead social transformation, and find solutions to many development challenges that the country is facing.

Issues with higher education in Bangladesh include (i) limited access despite the recent expansion, (ii) regional imbalance, (iii) poor quality and relevance to the market demand and national development priorities, and (iv) inadequate financing and governance arrangements.

Bangladesh has 34 public universities, 54 private universities, over 2,000 degree colleges and institutes affiliated to the National University, 2 international universities, and many other technical and professional institutions at tertiary level. Since introduction of private universities, enrolment at private university has grown significantly. Despite the recent expansion, tertiary level enrolment remains very low. About 7% of the eligible age cohort continues to tertiary education. It is far lower than India's 12%. There is also a tremendous regional imbalance. Most of 90 universities are concentrated in a few locations: 53 (59%) are in Dhaka and 10 (11%) in Chittagong, with the remaining 27 (30%) spread over 15 of the 64 districts.

With rapid quantitative expansion, the deteriorating quality and lack of relevance of higher education are growing concerns. Especially, young public and private universities, regional universities, and particularly the vast number of colleges under the National University lack (i) qualified and motivated teaching staff; (ii) access to the latest books, journals and research articles; (iii) access to internet and online communications; and (iv) research and training facilities. Following the Higher Education Strategic Plan 2006-2026, universities have established internal quality assurance cells, but it is still too early to see improvements. While the Strategic Plan has also proposed the establishment of an independent accreditation council covering both public and private universities, it has not been implemented. In terms of disciplines, Bangladesh higher education is skewed towards humanities and business. Most of the public universities have never closed any department of less relevance. There is a policy gap in guiding the higher education in producing graduates in strategic areas that would support national development priorities. Almost one fourth of the unemployed hold a senior secondary certificate or higher certificate or degree, and mismatch between graduate's discipline and job stream appears common. Business faculties and engineering and technology universities have internship programs as credit course, which prove to be successful in job placement.

Bangladesh spends only 2.3% of its GDP allocation for education, and 0.12% of GDP for higher education. The share of higher education in the total education budget is about 11%, which is the lowest in South Asia. Public universities are mostly funded by the Government through the University Grant Commission (UGC). Less than 10% of public university resources is self-generated through various ways. Public universities spend around 95% for recurrent costs, i.e., staff salary, subsidized dormitory and food, etc., and less than 5% is spent on research activities. Governance arrangements in public universities contribute to politicization of academic decision making. Vice chancellors are appointed by the President or Prime Minister, and therefore, have strong political affiliation. It is also difficult to ensure accountability of teachers. The National University system of affiliation limits the flexibility and innovation of individual colleges, which lead to lack of competition and eventually undermines quality of education. Private universities' curricula are reviewed mostly by public universities for UGC's approval, and therefore, there is not much flexibility for innovation and introduction of up-to-date subjects. While public universities have autonomy, due to their dependence on UGC funding and limited financing, they have little flexibility in spending their budget.

PPP in higher education has several advantages considering the current challenges in higher education and its role in transforming Bangladesh into a knowledge economy that can compete in global market. Firstly, it can create a win-win solution for universities and industry by allowing them to collaborate in research and development. Industry can leverage universities' research and development capacity based on basic and applied science disciplines. University can tap on industry's financial resources and also can train its students to gain practical experiences, which will increase relevance of higher education. Secondly, universities may have excellent technology, but most of times, do not have capacity and financing for product development, marketing, and distribution in commercial scale. Universities or their graduates can collaborate with industry in commercializing their technology products.

However, the concept of PPP is still nascent in Bangladesh, especially in higher education. Although there are a few good cases of linking university's function in human resource development and research and development with industry, most of them are rather ad-hoc and based on individual relationship. Public universities are not actively seeking opportunities to work with industry for cost recovery or research purpose. Industry reliance on imported technology rather than home-grown technology is also pointed out as an obstacle. Therefore, concerted efforts are required to establish shared understanding of PPP in higher education within the context of knowledge economy and Bangladesh's development priorities.

Impact Higher education institutions have established strong linkage with industry
Project Outcome
Description of Outcome Stakeholders reach consensus on priority areas for PPP and financing and governance options
Progress Toward Outcome
Implementation Progress
Description of Project Outputs

1. Effective consultation mechanism for higher education-industry linkage is established

2. Awareness and understanding of stakeholders on PPP in higher education increased

Wider public awareness of the role of higher education in knowledge economy built

Status of Implementation Progress (Outputs, Activities, and Issues)
Geographical Location
Summary of Environmental and Social Aspects
Environmental Aspects
Involuntary Resettlement
Indigenous Peoples
Stakeholder Communication, Participation, and Consultation
During Project Design The government agencies (Ministry of Education, Ministry of Finance, and University Grant Commissions), public and private universities, and private sector representatives have been consulted to examine the challenges and opportunities in higher education and to define the scope of the proposed S-CDTA and implementation arrangements.
During Project Implementation The activities of the S-CDTA will be carried out through a consultative process involving the key stakeholders, including the private sector. A Knowledge Economy and Higher Education Forum will be formed with the representatives from the Ministry of Education, UGC, selected public and private universities, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industries, and other prominent private sector figures. The Forum will also include eminent educationists and industry leaders from priority sectors that can champion the discussion and promote widely shared understanding of the knowledge economy and the role of higher education in Bangladesh context.
Business Opportunities
Consulting Services The S-CDTA will engage consultants to provide a total of 9 person-months of inputs (international, 3 person-months and national, 6 person-months). ADB will engage individual consultants in accordance with the ADB's Guidelines on the Use of Consultants by ADB and Its Borrowers (2010, as amended from time to time). The CDTA will be implemented over 12 months with expected commencement in February 2012 and completion in January 2013.
Responsible ADB Officer Eisuke Tajima
Responsible ADB Department South Asia Department
Responsible ADB Division Human and Social Development Division, SARD
Executing Agencies
Ministry of EducationShikkha Bhaban, 16 Abdul Ghani Road
Dhaka-1000
Bangladesh
Timetable
Concept Clearance -
Fact Finding -
MRM -
Approval 06 Dec 2011
Last Review Mission -
Last PDS Update 06 Dec 2011

TA 7960-BAN

Milestones
Approval Signing Date Effectivity Date Closing
Original Revised Actual
06 Dec 2011 - 06 Dec 2011 31 Jan 2013 15 Aug 2014 -
Financing Plan/TA Utilization Cumulative Disbursements
ADB Cofinancing Counterpart Total Date Amount
Gov Beneficiaries Project Sponsor Others
225,000.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 225,000.00 06 Dec 2011 150,460.74

Safeguard Documents

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Evaluation Documents

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