Online classes: UGC to give loan to 41,500 public university students for buying smartphones

The University Grants Commission (UGC) will give public university students interest-free loan by January 2021, so that they can buy smartphones and attend online classes amid the pandemic.

UGC is providing 41,501 students of public universities Tk 8,000 each interest-free loan to buy smartphones, according to a UGC statement.

The students will be able to repay the loan in four installments, the statement said today.

The decision of giving such loans was finalised during a virtual meeting attended by the UGC chairman, members, and top officials.

UGC Chairman Prof Kazi Shahidullah said this initiative will fulfil an important need of insolvent students. Also, this will have positive impact on online education and the students will be more attentive in online classes, it said.

The money will come from UGC’s own funds.

The regulatory body of universities had sought the funds from the education ministry in June, but since it is taking time to respond, the UGC wants to go ahead with the project on its own.

“We don’t have the end of Covid-19 [pandemic] in sight. We did not get any concrete answer from the government. If we don’t provide the funds right away, students who can’t afford to buy smartphones will further lag behind in their studies,” a UGC member said.

The member also said the UGC had initially planned to give Tk 15,000 to each student. But they cut it down to Tk 8,000 as the amount is enough to buy a smartphone.

Like schools and colleges, public universities have been taking classes online since they were closed in March to curb the spread of coronavirus.

A huge number of students, however, could not join the classes for having no smartphones or laptops.

In such a situation, the UGC in August asked the public universities to prepare lists of students who can’t attend online classes for not having smartphones.

Thirty-nine public universities sent lists of 41,501 students who need the assistance. The total number of students at the universities is 3,04,414.

Authorities of the universities said on average 14 percent of their students would need the assistance to buy the smartphones.


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