Nothing in the direction of a unified admission system for public universities is in sight eight year after government took the initiative.
Even president Abdul Hamid’s suggestion of November 2016 that the authorities should introduce the method to reducing hassle of the admission seekers and their guardians did not have any impact.
Authorities failed to introduce the unified admission system what they call ‘cluster admission system’ amid opposition by some reputed universities who fear losing a source of income and this year they blamed ‘lack of time’.
Education minister Nurul Islam Nahid and University Grants Commission chairman Professor Abdul Mannan both confirmed that there would be no unified admission test for admission seekers at public universities this year.
‘We will not be able to introduce the cluster system this year. But we are working on it,’ Nahid said.
‘President [Abdul Hamid] has talked about it; a committee comprising ministry, UGC and vice-chancellors are working. We are hopeful about introducing the system in future,’ he added.
It means that 8. 58 lakh examinees who passed the HSC and equivalent examinations this year will need to travel long distances to take admission tests at the 40 existing public universities.
They will have to pay for the admission form and travel costs alongside other hassles.
The education ministry in 2010 decided in principle to reduce the number of admission tests by taking one test for a cluster of universities, to cut down the cost of holding exams, reduce the burden on students, and check the influence of coaching centres.
Under the suggested system, related institutions – such as all science and technology universities or all agricultural universities – would have only one admission test. Currently, all the universities arrange separate admission tests.
Now the admission test for public and private medical colleges is being held centrally.
But the decision did not get off the ground as some reputed universities opposed the move from the beginning on grounds that they would not then be able to choose which of the students they would allow admission.
Admission business also played a role. Many universities make Tk 6 to Tk 8 crore from just the sale of admission forms, a lion’s share of which go to the teachers, so they do not want to bring any changes to the existing system.
Amid such a situation, president Abdul Hamid, who is also the chancellor of all public universities, in November 2016, attending a programme at the UGC, had suggested holding public university admission tests centrally.
Hamid also held a meeting with vice-chancellors of all public universities in
February this year and asked them to introduce unified admission test.
Abdul Mannan said that two committees — one formed by the Ministry of Education and the other by Bangladesh Bishwabidyalay Parishad, a platform of vice-chancellors, were working on introducing cluster system admission system.
Public universities are scattered all across the country — nine in Dhaka, four each in Chittagong and Gazipur, two each in Mymensingh, Khulna and Rajshahi and one each in Gopalganj, Barisal, Rangpur, Comilla, Dinajpur, Kushtia, Jessore, Tangail, Noakhali, Patuakhali and Rangamati.
The UGC in its annual report of 2016 and similar report in 2010, 2012 and 2013 termed the current admission system questionable and expensive and recommended reforms.
The report, due for placement in parliament, suggested that primarily public universities could replicate the medical admission test system and it would lessen the harassment of students as well as reduce their spending.
A UGC study in May 2013 found an admission seeker spending an average of Tk 43,100 on coaching and other related expenditure including travel.
The study found 93 per cent of admission seekers taking coaching classes to get admitted to higher education institutions.
Bangladesh Bishwabidyalay Parishad president Harun -Or-Rashid, also Patuakhali Science and Technology University VC, said that they could not implement the unified admission test system even after meeting with president as many universities cited lack of adequate time for the task.
‘Even two reputed universities opposed the move saying they would need approval of their academic committee,’ he said.
‘We have thought about introducing unified admission test for agriculture universities but it will not be taking place this year,’ he added.
Bangladesh Bishwabidyalay Parishad sources said that they fromed a standing committee meeting on July 12, set tentative dates for admission tests of 31 public universities.
The admission tests will be held in between September 14 November 5.
There are about 47,000 seats at the public universities most coveted by the admission seekers, according to UGC officials.
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