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“Huge growth opportunity” for Bangladesh

The appetite for international education is “huge” among Bangladeshi youth, a representative from the British High Commission in Dhaka said last week, following a report earlier this month that urged UK universities to diversify their student recruitment beyond India and China. 

The University of Portsmouth has successfully grown its Bangladeshi student base in recent years. Photo: The PIE News.

Bangladesh plans to become a high-income economy over the next two decades

Speaking on a PIE webinar, Dan Pasha, director of trade and investment at the British High Commission in Bangladesh, told viewers that the UK “has always consistently been an attractive destination for Bangladeshi students”, with 6,665 students enrolled at UK universities in the 2020-21 academic year. 

“There is a huge opportunity there,” agreed Chris Chang, deputy vice chancellor for global engagement and student life at the University of Portsmouth. The University has successfully grown its Bangladeshi student base in recent years by engaging with the local diaspora community. 

“We have the largest number of Bangladeshi immigrants as our ethnic-minority diaspora in Portsmouth,” said Chang. “So as a city, as a community and as a university, we collaborate at all different levels.” 

The university worked with the community and the city council to help establish the Portsmouth Bangladeshi Business Association, an umbrella body for diaspora organisations. 

“We work with them [and] have regular events,” Chang said. “They welcome our students at the start of the year.”

“Having the community link shows that there is that additional support from home, so to speak, so that they feel welcome and also they offer a link into the job market for those who need to work part-time.”

Pasha advised institutions that engaging “with the right stakeholders” is crucial to success in Bangladesh – including the University Grants Commission, the Ministry of Education and the Bangladesh High Commission. 

“One of the tips that I give to any British firm that wants to come out here and operate in any sector is to find local partners,” Pasha said. “London School of Economics will be establishing presence here by working through a local partner call University College of Bangladesh”. 

“You’re bringing excellence and driving and raising standards”

Research partnerships are also “very important” to Bangladesh, said Tanvir Mohammad Azim, commercial counsellor at the Bangladesh High Commission in the UK.

Azim said that these are crucial to helping Bangladesh achieve “Vision 2041” – its plan to become a high-income economy over the next two decades. 

The University of Portsmouth’s Centre of Blue Governance, which conducts research into marine protection, has already begun collaborating with researchers in Bangladesh.

“By having foreign institutions here operating in Bangladesh, including UK universities, it means you’re bringing excellence and driving and raising standards,” said Pasha. 

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