As Bangladesh decided not to accept General Education Development (GED) certificates for private university admission, experts say it is conflicting with conventional practice of outer world.
They said that the GED program, a four-month international standard course which is equivalent to Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) or A-Level program, are widely accepted in developed countries.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) recently issued a directive asking private university authorities not to allow GED for admission in undergraduate courses. The directive, to be effective from July 31, was issued in order to ensure standards in higher studies.
The decision will bar thousands of students who enrolled in GED program from getting admitted to universities in the country.
Prof Imran Rahman, former vice-chancellor of University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh, said: “This is an arbitrary decision by the UGC. We have stopped the system at a time when many colleges and universities in the USA accept GED for undergrad programs.”
“GED is a good system to bring off track students back to the track. I do not know why the UGC has made this decision without discussing the private universities,” he added.
UGC Chairman Prof Abdul Mannan said: “HSC is a two-year course whereas GED is a four-month diploma course, but both courses offer certificates equivalent to a higher secondary level. These two cannot be equal as there are huge discrepancies.”
“GED course cannot offer the same qualifications that an HSC student achieves,” he added.
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GED is a US degree and the certificates come from the US. Earlier the UGC allowed the program and students could directly get admission to private universities in the country completing a GED course after Secondary School Certificate (SSC) or O-Level exams.
If students fail in HSC or A-Level exams, they can easily sit for GED and thus they can enrol in private universities both home and abroad with GED certificates, the sources added.
Raisul Islam, GED program coordinator at Mentors Coaching Center, said 2,000-2,500 students receive GED certificates every year.
“Some 70%-80% students get admitted to private universities while the rest of the students go abroad for higher education.”
While asked about the future of currently enrolled GED students in the country, Raisul said: “Not all GED students are going abroad to study. Most of them aim to get enrolled in local universities. The decision would create trouble for the existing students as the doors of higher education are closed for them.”
In the USA, University of Florida, University of Texas, University of Illinois, DePaul University, University of Southern California, New York University, Arizona State University, Penn State University, Indiana University and University of Colorado are among the universities that accept GED certificates.
In Bangladesh, Independent University, East West University, University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh, International University of Business Agriculture and Technology, Shanto-Mariam University of Creative Technology, United International University, University of Asia Pacific, Primeasia University and Manarat International University have been allowing GED certificate holders to enrol in undergraduate programs.
However, the UGC said the decision would not create problem for the students as Bangladesh Open University provides programs for irregular students.
“A number of private universities of lower quality are doing business and selling certificates with the advantage of GED system. Irregular students will not suffer by any means due to the decision as programs are open for them in the Bangladesh Open University,” said Prof Mannan.
“If public universities do not accept GED certificates then why should private universities allow these?” he said.