DHAKA 5 May 2013: Academic Innovation Fund (AIF) component of the project are comprised of the two rounds: Round 1 and 2. Round 1 subprojects implementation started in January 2011 are scheduled to close by December 31, 2013. Overall implementation of 90 Round 1 subprojects peaked up from October 2012 and by December 31, 2012, 18 have reported completion of activities. By June a total of 43 (47%) subprojects under Round 1 are expected to be completed. The project has already received project completion reports (PCR) from 15 subprojects and currently preparing a status report on their achieving the milestones and performance indicators.
Up to December 2012, 44 Round 1 subprojects have achieved 81-100% of milestones that were set out in the subproject proposal. 14 subprojects achieved 61-80%, 9 clocked 41-60% and only three have reported 21-40% achievement. The overall milestones achievement data presents a satisfactory implementation status of Round 1 subprojects. The two graphs below show respectively fund disbursement and utilization trend under Round 1 up to February 28, 2013:
Round 2 subprojects executions began in April 2012 and have completed only 10 months of its implementation cycle up to February 2013. Data collected on milestones achieved up to December 2012 presents a satisfactory trend over the first eight months of implementation. Two subprojects have already achieved 81-100% of the stated milestones, three achieved 61-80%, 22 achieved 41-60%, 30 achieved 21-40% and the remaining 19 have shown 0-20% achievement. If the current trend of performance continues then it can be expected that all of the 106 subprojects would report satisfactory implementation status by October 2015. The two graphs below present the fund disbursement and utilization under Round 2 subprojects up to February 28, 2013:
Verification of above data by the M&E unit of the project shows that average progress of milestone achievement under Round 1 and 2 was respectively 76% and 36%. The two graphs below present the results of verification of milestones achieved respectively under Round 1 and 2:
Currently 25 self-assessment subprojects are being implemented in 15 universities under the two AIF rounds. Of which four are in Round 1 and 21 in Round 2. One Round 1 SA subproject has already completed implementation in February, 2013 and submitted project completion report. Remaining three subprojects are scheduled to be completed by June 2013. 21 Round 2 subprojects are scheduled to be completed by December 2013. Up to February 28, 2013 the four Round 1 SA subprojects have utilized 89.42% of disbursed amount. The 21 Round 2 subprojects have utilized 73% of disbursed amount till date. The overall progress of SA subproject implementation is satisfactory.
Four campus network subprojects (CNS) are currently being implemented at BSMRAU, DU, CU and KU with a total cost of US$1.4 million. US$ 0.05 million have been disbursed to the four CNS up to February 2013 but utilization is nil. Campus network subprojects implementation needs to gear up in order to complete implementation by December, 2013.
Key achievements by round 1 subprojects are: (i) In all Round 1 subproject implementation institutions class rooms have been refurbished with new furniture and multimedia devices; new lecture galleries have been built and existing ones have been equipped with new audio-visual equipment and multimedia projectors, (ii) computer labs with high speed connectivity have been established, (iii) academic staff have undertaken project management development training in the country and professional skills abroad, (iv) laboratories in science, engineering, medical, agricultural and veterinary universities have been furnished with state-of-art equipment and machineries which enhanced the research capabilities in those entities immensely, (v) 11 campus networks have been established and eight are under implementation. Campus area network in universities have created the conditions for development of digital EMIS and improvement of administration and institutional management by the authorities (vi) expansion of post-graduate research programs with increased in enrollment in master’s, M Phil and Ph D courses occurred, (vi) establishment of digital library facilities in 28 universities have been established which vastly improved the research potential of the academics and provided access to researchers and students to global pool of knowledge, (viii) Library automation with RFID have been introduced in several institutions thereby hugely facilitated to easy and secure access to knowledge bank, (ix) 196 subproject in 196 departments and institutions have transformed the academics and HE managers into change agents for initiating academic innovation in Bangladesh universities.
The AIF intervention has improved transparency and accountability in the utilization of public resources. It has promoted adoption of innovation as a conceptual tool to improve the academic standard of the HEIs and influenced on organizational behavior and capacity to stimulate a culture of quality. It has enhanced the capacity for strategic planning, design of academic improvement plans and change in management practices through program and departmental self-assessment. This has paved the way to establish quality assurance mechanism in universities. Overall, the demonstration effects of the subprojects on academic development and quality enhancement have generated huge enthusiasm among the institutions and academic community and have created conditions for the institutionalization of the competitive funding mechanism.
Lessons learned from the first and second rounds of AIF include: (i) training of Round 2 SPMs on financial management, record maintenance and monitoring and evaluation at the respective universities and at UGC should continue, (ii) the universities should be advised to strengthen the University AIF Secretariat (UAIFS) and make the University Proposal Screening Committees (UPSC) take up intense monitoring of subproject implementation as stipulated in the AIF operations manual (AIFOM), (iv) communication between HEQEPU and SPMs needs to be more streamlined, frequent and strengthened, (v)M&E unit should make vigorous efforts to collect subproject monitoring reports by many SPMs irregular, (vi)UGC should advise the subproject implementing entities to get more involved in the implementation activities and own it, (vii) SPMs should make full efforts to develop an effective MIS for the subprojects, (ix) vigorous monitoring of the subproject implementation activities by the HEQEPU staff should continue, (x) trouble-shooting by HEQEPU staff on procurement and financial management of Round 2 subprojects should continue to remove the bottlenecks in subproject implementation, (xi) there should be more frequent supervision visits of subprojects by UGC.