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DU move to scrap admission tests for D, E units criticized

  • Published at 07:16 pm November 10th, 2020
Dhaka University DU- Syed Zakir Hossain/DT
A general view of the British Raj-era building, Curzon Hall, which is now used as the building for Faculty of Sciences of the Dhaka University Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Academicians, scholars, teachers, and former students of the university say that the Deans’ Committee cannot make such a call

The move by the Dhaka University (DU) Deans’ Committee to abolish the undergraduate admission tests for D and E units from the 2021-22 academic year has drawn widespread criticism.

Academicians, scholars, teachers, and former students of the university are saying that the Deans’ Committee does not possess the power to make such a call as the body is not a constitutional one.

The decision to abolish admission tests for D and E units, under the Social Science and Fine Arts Faculties, respectively, followed a “sudden” proposal from Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof Akhtaruzzaman during Sunday’s Deans’ Committee meeting.

The proposal will be finalized at the academic council meeting of the university, which will be arranged soon.

Associate Professor of the university's International Relations Department Dr Md Tanzimuddin Khan, in a Facebook post, said: “Can the Deans’ Committee, which legally does not exist in the structure of the university [DU Order 1973], make recommendations on basic issues like admission tests?

“Former VC Prof AAMS Arefin Siddiqui formed the committee as an informal coordination forum to speed up the regular works of the faculty deans. The question now is whether it is the duty of the DU Academic Council to validate or accept the recommendations of this informal coordination forum? The DU Order 1973 will be violated if this happens then,” read the post.

According to DU Order 1973, the DU Academic Council shall be the academic body of the university and, subject to the provisions of this order, the statutes and the university ordinances, have the control and general supervision over,  and be responsible for maintenance of standards of, instruction, education, and examination within the university, and shall exercise such other powers and perform such other duties as may be conferred or imposed upon it by the Statutes. It shall have the right to advise the Syndicate on all academic matters.

Kaberi Gayen, the chairperson of the university’s Mass Communication and Journalism Department, also took to Facebook to express her shock over the recommendation.

She wrote: “This comes at a time when the subjects under the Social Sciences Faculty are being given more importance all over the world, and even many subjects of science are being taught in conjunction with the social sciences.”

She also expressed her concern over the decision being taken without discussing with the 16 affiliated departments under the university's Faculty of Social Sciences.

Academicians express dissatisfaction  

Meanwhile, DU Social Sciences Faculty members have expressed opposition to this move, and around 60 out of 108 professors from the faculty, comprising a majority, conveyed interest in going forth with the admission tests.

They promised to address this at the next DU Academic Council meeting, where the recommendation for abolition will be placed.

Prof Sadeka Halim, acting dean of the Social Science Faculty, said: “The teachers of the faculty members were surprised when they heard the proposal of the VC at the Deans’ Committee meeting to abolish the undergraduate admission tests for D and E units. 

“The teachers were even unaware that such a proposal was being even considered.” 

Echoing the same, Prof Nisar Hossain, acting dean of the Fine Arts Faculty, said: “The issue of abolishing admission tests for any unit was out of agenda at the recent Deans’ Committee meeting. Only discussions on scrapping D unit admission exams were held before the meeting had ended. Not E unit.

“However, the VC, on Monday, sent out letters to us where he said that a strategy will be worked out on how we could evaluate our students in the subjects of fine arts, dance, music, and theatre and performance studies by mentioning them as creative subjects. 

“If this happens, I will have no objection to the move,” he added.

According to the VC, the aim of the move is to reduce the number of honours admission tests and the stress of admission-seekers.

DU VC Prof M Akhtaruzzaman also said: “The issue of scrapping intake exams for different units is not new. This is being discussed since 2018. It was included inside the exam-related pre-review agenda of Sunday’s Deans’ Committee meeting.

“The types of admission questions for the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Social Sciences are almost the same. We are moving towards reducing exams to lessen the harassment of the students and for their benefit,” the VC added.

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