Exclusive Interview! AUAP president Dr Md. Sabur Khan on participatory learning, balancing tradition, campus violence and more

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During our insightful conversation, we had the pleasure of chatting with Dr. Md. Sabur Khan, followed by gaining valuable insights from his wisdom. He took us on a voyage into entrepreneurship with a focus on learning.

Dr Md. Sabur Khan, is a leading light in Bangladesh's dynamic ICT and education sphere. As the esteemed Chairman of Daffodil International University (DIU) and the President of the Association of Universities of Asia and the Pacific (AUAP), he casts a vision that transcends borders and time.

With a career spanning over three decades, Dr Khan's saga from the dawn of the nineties as a visionary IT entrepreneur to his current eminence epitomizes a song of innovation and transformation. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic he made a quick shift to online learning, later transitioning into blended learning models. 

His noble quest to amalgamate the riches of IT acumen with the timeless essence of traditional education resonates with the spirit of empowerment and progress.

We at edInbox had a chance to indulge in an insightful chat with Dr Md. Sabur Khan followed by glean insights from his wisdom, he took us on a voyage into entrepreneurship focus on learning.


Over the last two years of your tenure as the President of AUAP (Association of University of Asia and the Pacific), what achievements would you like to highlight?


During my tenure as President of the Association of Universities of Asia and the Pacific (AUAP), significant strides were made in expanding membership, launching innovative programs to enhance academic collaboration, strengthening industry-academia linkages, and embracing digital transformation. Initiatives focusing on sustainability and social responsibility were also prioritized, alongside efforts to enhance AUAP's visibility and influence internationally. Financial stability and growth were achieved through prudent management practices. These accomplishments, achieved through the dedication of the AUAP community, have solidified AUAP's position as a leader in higher education across the Asia-Pacific region, laying a strong foundation for continued growth and impact under future leadership.


Could you elaborate on the role that AUAP has played in shaping Asian education during your tenure and in general?


Throughout my tenure as President of the Association of Universities of Asia and the Pacific (AUAP), the organization has significantly impacted Asian education through multifaceted initiatives. From fostering enhanced inter-university cooperation and global academic networking to promoting academic mobility and exchange programs, AUAP has played a pivotal role in enriching the educational landscape. By securing scholarships and grants, advocating for curriculum innovation integrating emerging technologies and sustainable development, and strengthening industry-academia linkages, AUAP has ensured relevance and quality in education. Moreover, our advocacy efforts have influenced educational policies, promoting standards and internationalization across the region. Emphasizing digital transformation and sustainability during my tenure, AUAP has strived to prepare students as responsible global citizens, contributing to a dynamic and inclusive educational environment poised to meet future challenges and opportunities head-on.


Considering the challenges in education finance, do you see a significant role for finance managers in addressing these issues within educational institutions?


 Finance managers play a critical role in educational institutions by:

Allocating Resources Strategically: Prioritizing spending to enhance educational quality and access.

Budgeting: Developing and managing budgets to ensure long-term sustainability.

Managing Costs: Implementing cost-saving measures to optimize spending.

Ensuring Transparency: Maintaining financial transparency and accountability.

Risk Management: Identifying and mitigating financial risks to ensure stability.

Innovative Financing: Exploring alternative financing mechanisms for additional resources.

Engaging Stakeholders: Communicating financial strategies and needs to secure support.

Their expertise is vital for efficient financial management, sustainability, and the improvement of education quality.


With the rise of online education, how do you perceive its impact on traditional higher education? Do you see it as complementary to traditional forms? How does it contribute to employability in Asia and worldwide?


The rise of online education has significantly impacted traditional higher education, offering both challenges and opportunities. It's increasingly viewed not as a competitor but as a complementary form that enriches the educational landscape. Here's a breakdown of its impact and contribution to employability, both in Asia and worldwide:

Complementarity to Traditional Forms

Expanded Access: Online education breaks geographical barriers, making higher education accessible to a broader audience, including those in remote areas or with limited mobility.

Flexibility: It offers flexibility in learning schedules, allowing students to balance education with work or family commitments. This flexibility is particularly appealing to adult learners and professionals seeking to upskill.

Personalized Learning: Digital platforms can provide personalized learning experiences, adapting to individual learner's pace and style, which can complement the one-size-fits-all approach of traditional classrooms.

Innovation in Teaching: The integration of online education prompts traditional institutions to innovate, adopting blended learning models that combine the best of online and in-person teaching.

Contribution to Employability

Skill Development: Online education platforms often offer courses in partnership with industry leaders, focusing on developing skills that are in high demand in the job market, such as digital literacy, data analysis, and coding.

Lifelong Learning: They support the concept of lifelong learning, enabling individuals to continuously acquire new skills and knowledge essential for career advancement and adaptability in a rapidly changing job market.

Global Perspectives: Online programs can expose students to global perspectives and cross-cultural interactions, enhancing their global employability and readiness to work in diverse environments.

Credentialing and Micro-credentialing: Online courses and programs, including those offering micro-credentials, allow individuals to showcase their competencies in specific skill sets to employers, often in a more granular and focused manner than traditional degrees.

Impact on Higher Education and Employability in Asia

In Asia, where there's a vast demand for higher education against the backdrop of growing economies and technological advancements, online education plays a critical role in bridging the gap between education and employment. It enables educational institutions to scale their offerings and reach a larger segment of the population, contributing to the development of a skilled workforce aligned with the needs of emerging industries.

Furthermore, in countries with rapidly changing economic landscapes, online education's agility in updating and introducing new courses in response to market demands is invaluable. This agility supports the development of an adaptable and skilled workforce, enhancing employability and economic competitiveness on both a local and global scale.

In conclusion, online education is increasingly seen as a vital complement to traditional higher education, enhancing its reach, flexibility, and relevance. Its role in skill development, lifelong learning, and the provision of global perspectives contributes significantly to employability, making it a key player in the future of education both in Asia and worldwide.


Daffodil University is the largest private university in Bangladesh. Could you briefly explain how you achieved this feat and what strategies were employed to bring Daffodil to its current status?


DIU often employ to achieve significant growth and success in the competitive landscape of higher education, particularly in a country like Bangladesh where the demand for quality education is high.

Expansion and Diversification of Academic Programs

Curriculum Innovation: Offering a wide range of innovative and market-relevant academic programs that cater to the evolving needs of the job market. This could include specialized courses in emerging fields like information technology, business analytics, and sustainable development.

Emphasis on Quality Education

Accreditation and Quality Assurance: Pursuing international accreditations and certifications to ensure high academic standards. This helps in building the institution’s reputation and trust among prospective students and employers.

Faculty Development: Investing in recruiting and developing highly qualified faculty members who are experts in their fields and are passionate about teaching and research.

Infrastructure and Technological Advancements

State-of-the-Art Campus Facilities: Developing a modern campus with excellent infrastructure, including advanced laboratories, libraries, and learning centers, to provide a conducive learning environment.

Technology Integration: Leveraging technology in education through e-learning platforms, digital libraries, and virtual labs to enhance the learning experience and accessibility.

Student-Centric Approaches

Scholarships and Financial Aid: Offering scholarships and financial support to attract talented students from diverse backgrounds, ensuring that quality education is accessible to all.

Career Services and Internship Programs: Establishing strong connections with industry leaders to provide students with internship and employment opportunities, enhancing their employability upon graduation.

Internationalization and Collaborations

Global Partnerships: Forming partnerships with international universities for student exchange programs, collaborative research, and dual degree options, enhancing the global exposure of students.

Active Participation in International Forums: Engaging in international education forums and networks to increase the university’s global footprint and to stay abreast of global higher education trends.

Community Engagement and Social Responsibility

Community Service Programs: Encouraging students and staff to participate in community service and development projects, building a strong sense of social responsibility and community engagement.

Marketing and Branding

Effective Use of Digital Marketing: Utilizing social media, content marketing, and search engine optimization to enhance the university’s visibility and to attract prospective students.

Alumni Network: Building a strong alumni network that supports the university through mentorship, networking, and philanthropy, further bolstering the university’s reputation.

By employing these strategies, universities like Daffodil International University can achieve substantial growth, enhance their reputation, and establish themselves as leaders in the higher education sector in Bangladesh and beyond.


Can you identify five unique aspects of Daffodil University that could inspire other universities in Asian countries?

Daffodil International University (DIU) in Bangladesh exemplifies several unique aspects that not only contribute to its success but also offer valuable lessons for other universities across Asia. Here are five distinctive features:

Innovative Learning Environment: DIU places a strong emphasis on creating an innovative learning environment that encourages creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving among students. This is facilitated through state-of-the-art facilities, technology-driven classrooms, and practical, real-world learning opportunities. By focusing on an education model that integrates technology and innovation, DIU prepares students for the demands of the modern workforce, setting an example for other institutions to create more dynamic and engaging learning experiences.

Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: One of DIU's standout initiatives is its commitment to fostering entrepreneurship among its students and alumni. The university has established incubators and accelerators that support startups and entrepreneurial ventures. This ecosystem not only supports new business ideas but also embeds entrepreneurial skills in students, making them job creators rather than job seekers. This approach could inspire universities in Asia to integrate entrepreneurship into their curricula and support structures, thereby contributing to economic development.

Global Partnerships and Collaborations: DIU has actively pursued international collaborations with universities, research institutions, and industry partners worldwide. These partnerships enhance academic quality, provide students with global exposure, and facilitate cultural exchange. By prioritizing internationalization, DIU not only elevates its own status but also demonstrates the value of global networking and collaboration for academic and research excellence.

Focus on Sustainable Development: DIU is committed to sustainable development and incorporates this into various aspects of university life, from its curriculum to campus operations. The university’s initiatives around green technologies, waste reduction, and energy efficiency serve as a model for integrating sustainability into higher education institutions. This commitment to sustainability aligns with global goals and positions DIU as a forward-thinking institution that other universities can emulate.

Community Engagement and Social Responsibility: DIU places a strong emphasis on community service and social responsibility, encouraging students to engage in volunteer work and community projects. This not only aids in the personal development of students but also helps address local community needs. By prioritizing social responsibility, DIU fosters a culture of giving back and prepares graduates to be conscientious global citizens. This approach can inspire other universities to incorporate community engagement into their core values, thereby enhancing their societal impact.

These aspects of DIU reflect innovative practices in higher education that can inspire other universities across Asia to adopt similar strategies for growth, societal impact, and global relevance.


What are the major plans and initiatives that Daffodil University intends to pursue in the next five years?


Over the next five years, Daffodil University (DIU) will embark on an ambitious journey encompassing several key areas. This includes a robust focus on digital transformation, with plans to upgrade infrastructure and integrate advanced educational technologies like AI and virtual reality. Concurrently, DIU aims to expand its global presence through strategic partnerships, fostering international collaborations and enriching research endeavors. Furthermore, the university intends to nurture innovation and entrepreneurship by establishing comprehensive support mechanisms for student startups and promoting research translation. Sustainability will also remain a central theme, with initiatives to green the campus, embed sustainability in the curriculum, and tackle pressing environmental issues through research. DIU is committed to fostering inclusivity, with efforts to increase access to education for underserved communities through targeted programs and community engagement. Strengthening research capabilities will be prioritized through investments in facilities and fostering a vibrant research culture. Additionally, the university will focus on enhancing graduates' employability by offering comprehensive career services and forging industry partnerships. These initiatives collectively underscore DIU's dedication to excellence, innovation, and societal impact in higher education.


Daffodil University is currently 22 years old. Looking ahead to its 25th anniversary, what new developments or advancements do you envision for the institution?


Looking ahead to its 25th anniversary, Daffodil University (DIU) is gearing up for some exciting changes. They're planning to make learning more personalized by using fancy technologies like AI and virtual reality. Plus, they want to team up with universities all over the world, giving students more chances to study abroad and work on cool projects together. DIU also cares a lot about the environment, so they're going to do even more to make their campus eco-friendly and teach students about sustainability. They're big on helping students start their own businesses too, so they're going to offer even more support for student startups. And, of course, they want to make sure students are happy and healthy, so they're expanding services like career help and wellness programs. All in all, DIU is aiming high for its 25th birthday, hoping to make education even better for everyone involved.


What are your suggestions for other universities in Asia and their mentors based on your experiences with Daffodil University?


Drawing from the innovative approaches and successes of Daffodil International University (DIU), there are several actionable strategies and insights that other universities in Asia and their mentors can consider enhancing their own institutions. These suggestions aim to foster an environment of growth, innovation, and inclusivity:

Embrace Technological Integration

Invest in EdTech: Prioritize the integration of educational technologies to facilitate a more interactive and engaging learning experience. This includes leveraging online platforms, AI for personalized learning, and VR/AR for immersive educational experiences.

Digital Literacy: Ensure that both students and faculty are proficient in digital tools and platforms to maximize their potential for teaching and learning.

Foster a Culture of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: Establish incubators and accelerators within the university to support student and faculty startups, encouraging innovation and practical application of academic knowledge.

Collaborative Spaces: Create innovation labs and maker spaces that encourage collaborative work among students from different disciplines, fostering a multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving.

Strengthen International Collaborations

Global Partnerships: Develop partnerships with universities and research institutions around the world to facilitate student and faculty exchanges, joint research projects, and dual degree programs.

Internationalization at Home: Encourage the inclusion of international perspectives in the curriculum and campus activities to prepare students for global citizenship.

Prioritize Sustainability and Social Responsibility

Green Campus Initiatives: Implement sustainable practices on campus, such as waste reduction, energy efficiency, and green building standards.

Community Engagement: Encourage students and faculty to engage in community service and social impact projects, aligning academic pursuits with societal needs.

Enhance Research Capabilities

Research Infrastructure: Invest in state-of-the-art research facilities and resources to support advanced research activities.

Funding and Grants: Actively seek out research grants and funding opportunities, and support faculty and students in their research endeavors.

Support Comprehensive Student Development

Holistic Education: Beyond academic excellence, provide opportunities for students to develop soft skills, leadership abilities, and emotional intelligence through extracurricular activities and workshops.

Career Services: Expand career counseling and placement services to help students transition from academic to professional life successfully.

Ensure Inclusivity and Access

Scholarships and Financial Aid: Offer a range of scholarships and financial aid programs to ensure that higher education is accessible to students from all socioeconomic backgrounds.

Diversity and Inclusion: Promote a campus culture that values diversity, equity, and inclusion, recognizing the strength that comes from a diverse student body and faculty.

Adopt a Student-Centered Approach

Feedback Mechanisms: Implement regular feedback mechanisms to gather insights from students and faculty on how to improve academic programs and campus life.

Adaptive Learning: Customize learning experiences to meet the needs and learning styles of individual students, ensuring that education is accessible and effective for everyone.

By adopting these strategies, universities in Asia can navigate the challenges of the 21st century and position themselves as leaders in innovation, inclusivity, and global education. The key is to remain adaptable, continuously seek improvement, and always place the educational and personal development of students at the core of their mission.

Could you share your insights and suggestions regarding participatory learning and its importance in the educational landscape?


Participatory learning represents a significant shift from traditional, lecture-based education towards a more interactive, student-centered approach. It emphasizes the active involvement of students in their own learning process, fostering a deeper understanding and engagement with the material. Here are insights and suggestions regarding the implementation and importance of participatory learning in the educational landscape:

Importance of Participatory Learning

Enhances Critical Thinking: By engaging directly with the material, students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They learn to analyze, question, and synthesize information, rather than passively absorb it.

Promotes Engagement and Motivation: Participatory learning makes the educational process more engaging for students, which can increase their motivation and interest in the subject matter. Active participation helps students find personal relevance in the material, fostering a deeper connection to their learning.

Facilitates Personalized Learning: This approach allows for the accommodation of diverse learning styles and paces. Students can engage with the material in ways that suit their individual learning preferences, enhancing the effectiveness of education for a broader range of students.

Encourages Collaboration and Communication: Participatory learning often involves group work and collaborative projects, which develop students' abilities to communicate effectively, work in teams, and respect diverse viewpoints.

Prepares Students for Real-World Challenges: The skills developed through participatory learning, such as collaboration, critical thinking, and effective communication, are highly valued in the workplace. This approach better prepares students for the challenges and dynamics of the professional world.

Suggestions for Implementing Participatory Learning

Incorporate Active Learning Techniques: Use methods such as problem-based learning, case studies, group projects, and simulations to encourage active participation. These techniques require students to engage directly with the material, applying what they learn to real-world scenarios.

Utilize Technology: Leverage technology to facilitate participatory learning. Online forums, interactive software, and virtual simulations can provide dynamic platforms for student engagement.

Foster a Safe and Inclusive Environment: Create a classroom atmosphere where all students feel safe to express their ideas, ask questions, and make mistakes. Such an environment encourages risk-taking and exploration, which are key components of participatory learning.

Shift the Role of the Instructor: In a participatory learning setting, the instructor acts more as a facilitator or guide than a traditional lecturer. This involves posing questions, guiding discussions, providing feedback, and helping students explore the material rather than delivering it in a one-way flow.

Assess Participation and Process: Develop assessment strategies that value the learning process as much as the final product. This could include reflective journals, peer evaluations, and participation grades that recognize students' efforts to engage actively with the material.

Encourage Reflection: Encourage students to reflect on their learning process. Reflection activities can help students solidify their understanding, recognize their progress, and identify areas for improvement.

By embracing participatory learning, educational institutions can create more dynamic, effective, and engaging learning experiences. This approach not only benefits students academically but also support their personal growth and development, preparing them to be active, informed, and engaged citizens.


Violence on university campuses, particularly in the context of government involvement, is a concern for many institutions. How do you propose addressing and controlling such incidents, and what are the underlying reasons behind campus violence?


Addressing and controlling violence on university campuses, especially when it involves government involvement, is a complex challenge that requires a nuanced and multi-faceted approach. Understanding the underlying reasons is crucial to developing effective strategies. Here are some insights into the causes and proposed solutions:

Underlying Reasons Behind Campus Violence

Political Tensions: In many regions, universities become arenas for political activism and dissent, leading to clashes between students and government forces or between different student groups with opposing political views.

Social and Economic Injustices: Disparities and perceived injustices within the societal or educational system can fuel frustration and anger among students, leading to protests that may escalate into violence.

Lack of Dialogue and Engagement: When channels for open dialogue and constructive engagement between students, university administration, and government bodies are absent or ineffective, it can lead to an escalation of conflicts.

External Influences: Sometimes, external groups with vested interests may incite or exacerbate violence on campuses as part of broader political or social conflicts.

Mental Health Issues: The stress and pressures of university life can contribute to mental health issues among students, which, in a minority of cases, may manifest as violent behavior if not properly addressed.

Proposed Solutions

Promote Open Dialogue: Establish forums and platforms where students can express their concerns, grievances, and aspirations in a constructive manner. Encouraging open dialogue with university administration and government representatives can help address underlying issues before they escalate.

Strengthen Campus Security Measures: While ensuring the security of the campus community, it's important that security measures are balanced and do not infringe on students' rights. Transparent policies and the professional conduct of security personnel are essential.

Implement Conflict Resolution Programs: Universities should offer programs and workshops on conflict resolution, peacebuilding, and non-violent communication for students and staff. These programs can equip individuals with the skills to manage disagreements constructively.

Enhance Support Services: Provide accessible mental health services and support for students facing academic, financial, or personal issues. A supportive environment can mitigate some of the stressors that contribute to violent behavior.

Engage with Government and Policymakers: Universities should actively engage with government bodies to advocate for policies that protect academic freedom and the rights of students to peaceful protest. Efforts should be made to minimize the involvement of government forces on campus and to ensure that any necessary involvement is conducted with restraint and respect for human rights.

Foster a Culture of Respect and Inclusivity: Cultivating an inclusive campus culture that values diversity, equity, and mutual respect can help reduce tensions. Programs that promote cultural understanding and tolerance can contribute to a more harmonious campus environment.

Community and Stakeholder Collaboration: Work with local communities, NGOs, and other stakeholders to address broader social and economic issues that contribute to campus violence. This collaborative approach can help create more comprehensive and sustainable solutions.

Ultimately, addressing the issue of violence on campus requires a commitment to dialogue, transparency, and respect for human rights and academic freedom. By understanding the root causes and implementing targeted strategies, universities can create a safer, more inclusive, and peaceful campus environment.