UNB, Dhaka : The government will sign a loan agreement with the World Bank on February 10 for the extension of the Higher Education Quality Enhancement Project (HEQEP) till 2018, said officials of the University Grant Commission of Bangladesh (UGC) here on Saturday. The HEQEP is being implemented by UGC since 2009 with a primary estimate of Tk 681.04 crore fund disbursements to both public and private universities till 2013. Addressing a press briefing at Cirdap auditorium, the UGC officials claimed that WB performance indicators speak satisfactorily about the implementation of the HEQEP and it has agreed to finance more to extend the project up to 2018. The proposed project cost now stands at Tk 2054.32 crore, of which the government will provide Tk 262.77 crore. The HEQEP comprises of five components, including the promotion of innovation through Academic Innovation Fund (AIF), building institutional capacity of the tertiary education, raising the connectivity in higher education through the development of the Bangladesh Research and Education Network (BdREN), establishment of quality assurance mechanism and monitoring. Speaking at the press conference, UGC chairman AK Azad Chowdhury said a significant increase has been proposed for the AIF – from $ 42.4 million to $ 89.3 million – with a special focus on promoting relations between university teachers and industrialists under a University-Industry Collaboration programme. Under the first round of HEQEP that ended in April, 2010, Tk 183 crore was allocated from the AIF to 91 projects in 25 public universities and 2 private universities. Under the second round of HEQEP that ended in March, 2012, Tk 189 crore AIF allocations were finalised for 106 projects in 25 public universities and 2 private universities.