Limited higher education seats worry students

Ershad Kamol | Published: 00:38, Feb 04,2021


Many students and parents are going through anxieties over the limited number of seats available at their preferred universities and medical colleges as a staggering 13.67 lakh students have passed the Higher Secondary Certificate and equivalent examinations with 1.61 lakh of them receiving GPA 5.

According to them, the admission tests will be very tough as the medical colleges and public universities have less than 65,000 seats against the 1.61 lakh students who have obtained GPA 5.

Their anxieties are, they said, intensifying as the public universities or the government have not yet clarified the nature of the admission tests they will organize, though they have been trying for several months to introduce cluster-based admission tests.

‘Actually we have been passing through anxieties since the COVID-19 outbreak past March,’ said Abu Darda who secured GPA 5 in the HSC exam, the results of which were published on Saturday.

‘The government took almost six months to take the decision to not hold the HSC exams. And it is yet to clarify the method in which the admission tests will be held for the 13.67 lakh students of whom 1.61 lakh have received GPA 5,’ he said.

Awarding so many students GPA 5 will certainly make the admission tests very difficult and competitive and may not judge the merit of a student, he apprehended.

Khan Jubair Hossain of Khulna, who too received GPA 5, said that he and his parents were completely in the dark on the nature of the admission tests that are going to be held amid the COVID-19 prevalence.

‘Admission test question patterns are different from those of the HSC exam questions. But we still don’t know about the nature of the admission tests and their venues amid the ongoing COVID-19 situation when our future depends a lot on the admission tests,’ Jubair observed.

All the 13,67,377 HSC and equivalent candidates have passed this occasion, including a record 1,61,807 candidates securing GPA 5 based on the results of their Junior School Certificate and Secondary School Certificate or equivalent examinations.

According to the new grading method,  developed by an eight-member technical committee, 17,033 candidates have obtained GPA 5 in the HSC exam though they did not in the SSC exam while 396 candidates who secured GPA 5 in both the SSC and JSC exams have not been awarded GPA 5 in the HSC exam.

The total number of students who have passed the HSC and equivalent exams this year is 34,754 more than the total number of seats available for the next higher classes at all the colleges and universities of the country, according to official statistics.

According to the University Grants Commission, the 39 public universities in operation have 60,000 seats while the total intake capacity at the 95 private universities, madrassahs under the Islamic Arabic University, colleges under the National University and other three universities is13,20,000. 

The Health Education Division data shows that the 37 government medical colleges have 4,350 seats for the MBBS course and 532 seats for the BDS course while the 75 private medicate colleges have 6,336 MBBS and 1,405 BDS seats.

‘I’m  concerned over the future of my son as all the high-performing students will compete for admission at the top public universities and medical colleges which offer less than 20,000 seats,’ said Rehnuma Akhter, a parent. 

Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology professor Mohammad Kaykobad said that this year’s admission test at the universities would be very difficult in selecting the most meritorious students as the COVID-19 situation compelled the government to grant pass to the hundred per cent candidates and award three times higher students GPA 5 compared to the past year.

‘Logically, the high-scoring students will compete for the engineering universities, top-level public universities and medical colleges. The universities and the government will therefore have to act very sensibly and responsibly in holding the admission tests considering the future of the bright students and the nation as well,’ Kaykobad said. 

He further said that as a single university would not be able to manage so many candidates efficiently they should hold the admission tests in clusters forgetting their ego problem.

The UGC and the universities must immediately settle this issue, he said.

UGC chairman Mohammad Shahidullah said that a decision on whether or not to hold the admission tests in clusters would be taken and the test method would be published soon.

‘But I don’t think that seats will be a problem as all the students who pass the HSC and equivalent exams do not go for higher studies,’ Shahidullah said.  

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