North South University – Intensifying Engagement

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Professor Atiqul Islam

A QS Showcase message from Professor Atiqul Islam, Vice-Chancellor, North South University, Bangladesh

“Engagement is the hallmark of a modern university”
Professor Atiqul Islam
Vice-Chancellor, North South University, Bangladesh

North South University was born to fill a vacuum in the educational landscape of Bangladesh. For over a decade, the country had been making steady economic progress, and both primary and secondary education was expanding remarkably. A burgeoning middle class wanted their children to pursue tertiary education. On the demand side, industry, professions and the government were handicapped by a shortage of quality tertiary educated professionals to provide leadership.

But opportunities for tertiary education were limited to fewer than 10 universities, all in the public sector. Their capacity was utterly inadequate, leaving a huge population of eager students stranded, except the few who could afford to go overseas.

In this situation, in 1992, a group of foresighted and patriotic leaders in industry, academia and public administration took the initiative to set up the first private university in Bangladesh – the North South University (NSU). So engagement and experiential learning was in the DNA of NSU. With the expansion of courses in the areas of social sciences, health sciences, engineering and liberal arts, engagement with the professions, government and the community at large blossomed. We firmly believe that engagement is the hallmark of a modern university.

A primary vehicle of our engagement activity is the Consultative Committees for faculties and disciplines. These committees comprise industry, profession and public sector representatives. They give valuable input at the stage of designing curricula as well as during periodic reviews. By continuously tailoring our curriculum and assessing the market trends to incorporate skills pivotal in providing direct working knowledge, we have achieved 100% employment for our graduates.

NSU has been at the forefront of research in the fields of public health, environmental sciences and public policy. We receive substantial research grants from the government of Bangladesh to solve pressing issues. Our researchers work to develop policies to solve practical problems for government, industry and professions, engage in joint research with organisations like NASA and icddr,b as well as with universities in the US, Europe, and Asia Pacific. And by furthering our engagement with international partners, we will continue to become an even richer hub for applied research.

Our 22 student clubs are highly effective in engaging with industry. All our students experience internship with an average duration of 19 weeks. A well organised Careers and Placement Center conducts all placement related tasks including in-house training. And our clubs in the areas of sports, culture, drama, photography and social welfare are very effective in nurturing community engagement.

Engagement through our alumni is substantial. A large number of them have been successful entrepreneurs and others have been highly successful in their respective professions at home and abroad. Most of them do their best to advance the cause of their alma mater.

With the vision to break into the top 100 of the QS University Rankings: Asia, we will continue to further our engagement with partners and provide new avenues to serve the communities and countries. In brief, what distinguishes NSU from the average university is that our learning & teaching as well as our research are all inspired by engagement.

Professor Atiqul Islam is vice-chancellor of North South University. Previously, he was executive dean of the Faculty of Business and Law and pro vice-chancellor of Edith Cowan University; head of School of Commerce, University of South Australia; dean of Faculty of Business and Government, University of Canberra. Professor Islam holds honours and master’s degrees from the University of Dhaka; MCom (Accounting) from the University of New South Wales; and a PhD from the University of Sydney.