What began in 2001 as an evening course under Dhaka University's business studies faculty for developing skills of professionals has witnessed an exponential growth over the past 17 years.
Now DU offers dozens of evening postgraduate, certificate, diploma and other professional courses at times jeopardising its core and regular academic activities. Currently as many as 40 departments and institutions of the university are running such evening courses while more are in the offing.
Such phenomenal growth in mostly short-term evening courses is now testing the capacity of the university as DU is running short of additional human resources to run so many evening programmes.
Noting that large number of evening courses hampering regular academic activities of DU, many studies and teachers fear that unless the situation is brought under control, the university's regular academic curriculum will be compromised.
The authority of Dhaka University (DU) first approved evening master's courses of business faculty in October 2001 while then Vice Chancellor Prof Dr AK Azad Chowdhury was in the helm of the affairs.
The logic employed to rationalise the move was to spread higher education among professionals to enrich their knowledge and skill. But now many criticise that evening courses have become money-making ventures for some teachers and officials.
In a meeting of the DU Senate last year, DU treasurer Prof Kamal Uddin criticised evening courses sying, "In the name of evening course many public universities including DU are producing under-qualified graduates."
"A section of teachers of our university are playing active role to introduce and continue this below standard evening courses for their personal benefits. But they should keep it in mind that university is not a money-making machine," he said then.
They (a section of teachers) are also hampering the image of Dhaka University through the evening courses and pushing the regular students into challenges in the job market, he had alleged in June last year.
Questionable admission process and inappropriate answer script evaluation are producing low-quality graduates tarnishing the image of the university. Because there is no official difference between these low quality evening masters graduates and regular students as the certificates and mark sheets of both are same.
DU Vice Chancellor Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman admitted that the quality of evening masters graduates and regular students are not same.
He said, "We know that this system has some lacking. But we are trying to promote this system and to take it under a proper process so that we can secure quality education and ensure world class graduates."
The 40 departments and institutions of DU those are running evening courses now include: Management, Accounting and Information System, Marketing, Finance, Banking and Insurance, Management and Information System, International Business, Tourism and Hospitality Management, Organization Strategy and Leadership, Television, Film and Photography Studies, Printing and Publication Studies, Japanese Studies, Criminology, Public Administration, Development Studies, Political Science, International Relations, Nuclear Engineering, Communication Disorder, Geography and Environment, Oceanography and Clinical Psychology departments; Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Institute of Energy, Institute of Disaster Management and Vulnerability Studies, Institute of Social Welfare and Research, Institute of Health Economics, Institute of Education and Research and Confucius Institute.
DU Pro Vice Chancellor Prof Mohammad Samad said, "We must maintain the proper quality of education. Maintaining quality is equally important for regular and evening or professionals courses."
Some student leaders have their critical views about DU running so many evening courses.
Bangladesh Chatra League (BCL) DU Unit former General Secretary Motahar Hossain Prince said, "For these evening courses, regular students' study is being hampered as the teachers are giving more efforts in professional courses. They also face identity crisis in the job market as evening courses' students get same certificates like them."
Criticising evening courses DU Dhaka University unit Chhatra Union President Foez Ullah said, "These types of professional programmes never suit DU tradition and character. Teachers are serving in exchange of money, and earning money becomes main factor here."