The University Grants Commission is going to sit with the vice chancellors of various universities on October 15
Soon after the government's decision to cancel this year's Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and equivalent examinations due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the authorities concerned are now facing multiple challenges over the issue of entry tests in universities.
The HSC results will be published in December and the university admission procedure will start in January next year, according to Education Minister Dipu Moni.
The result will be evaluated based on the students' Junior School Certificate (JSC) and Secondary School Certificate (SSC) results and their average, she said on October 7.
The Education Ministry, however, has formed a specialist committee to evaluate the results.
Meanwhile, admission seekers on social media platforms have urged the authorities that the university admission tests be held without counting the cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of HSC and SSC.
Under the circumstances, the University Grants Commission (UGC), the statutory apex body for higher education, is going to sit with the vice chancellors of various universities on October 15 to discuss how to accomplish the admission procedures.
Although the commission called the meeting for review and discussion on the online classes and its problems of the universities, they will also discuss the entry test procedures to reduce session jams, officials said.
In February, the UGC decided to use a cluster admission test system for the academic year 2020-21, even after five top public universities refused to accept the system.
The universities are - Dhaka University, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), Jahangirnagar University, Chittagong University, and Rajshahi University.
Earlier, the UGC took successful cluster examinations in all the agricultural universities on November 30, 2019.
What will be the way for holding the tests?
UGC member Prof Muhammed Alamgir said the universities will decide the methods of entry tests -- cluster or separate -- after the HSC result in December.
The commission, however, will prefer to use cluster admission test procedures, he said.
According to the UGC, there will be a total of six tests -- three examinations for science, humanities, and commerce groups for general universities, one exam each for engineering, science and technology, and agriculture universities.
When asked about the meeting agenda on October 15, Prof Alamgir said they are likely to discuss that if any university wants to hold the tests based on MCQ [multiple-choice questions], they should give opportunity to as many admission seekers as possible.
Besides, if they want to hold written tests, they can select the test seekers based on their merit, he said.
However, the engineering based universities will be giving priority to marks obtained mainly in the basic science related subjects -- Physics, Chemistry, Maths, as well as English.
Buet Teachers' Association President Dr AKM Masud said they will take a final decision on the admission tests after publishing the HSC result.
UGC member Prof Dil Afroza Begum said the universities will have to hold the entry tests physically instead of online admission tests, otherwise, it will not be acceptable.
Asked how the process will be held amid such a pandemic, she said three separate admission tests will be conducted by experienced academics in three subjects -- humanities, science, and business studies -- on different days.
UGC Chairman Prof Kazi Shahidullah said they will make the final decision after discussion with the universities.
64,000 seats in public universities
The government decision of cancelling the HSC and equivalent examinations has paved the way for 1,365,689 students to pass the examinations.
And, at the same time, it has raised another issue whether or not the huge number of students will be able to enroll themselves in universities.
According to the UGC latest report, there are over 2.1 million seats for admission seekers in all public and engineering universities, private universities, colleges under the National University, medical colleges, and technical institutions.
However, students have to face a hard contest to come out successful for a seat in public and engineering universities along with medical colleges, where there are around 64,000 seats only.