Some students call for boycott, while experts believe education systems are bound to change depending on the prevailing situation
The process of the submission of final applications for the cluster admission tests for the 2020-21 academic year will start on September 1 and continue till September 7.
This year, 20 public universities (GST - general, science and technology), three engineering universities and seven agricultural universities will hold the cluster admission tests.
Primary applications were accepted from April 1 to June 25, and the list of students eligible to submit final applications was published on August 25.
Some students have called for the cancellation of the cluster system as many failed to secure a place in the final eligibility list.
Students of HSC batches 2019 and 2020 both were allowed to apply for this year’s cluster exams, and those who passed in 2019 are upset that the batch in 2020 was promoted through the controversial “auto-pass” system.
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Md Fayaz, one such distressed student, complained on Facebook that comparing the HSC grades of the two batches was unfair.
“Many of us could have sat for the exam at several universities had the authorities not opted for the cluster test system,” he said.
Meanwhile, the University Grants Commission has said the from the following academic year it will not allow the HSC batch of the previous year to take part in the cluster admission test.
UGC member Prof Dil Afroza Begum said: “India has been holding cluster entrance exams for many years. If they can do it, why can’t we?”
“Everyone does not need to go to university, and people have a false impression that everyone must get admitted to public universities,” she added.
GST universities disappointed by number of applicants
A total of 361,406 students had applied to sit for the GST university exam but 296,565 of them were selected to submit the final applications by depositing Tk1,200 through mobile banking.
The selected students must submit the final applications within a period of seven days. Otherwise, the authorities will publish another list of rejected applicants.
The 20 GST universities have the capacity to hold exams for 131,000 candidates at a time and take in 22,013 students in total, according to Shahjalal University of Science and Technology VC Prof Farid Uddin Ahmed, who is also the coordinator of the GST universities’ committee.
“We thought at least a million students would apply, but only about 350,000 did. We gave them a long time to apply but they did not. I do not understand the reason behind their reluctance,” he said.
He estimated that only 50%-60% of the selected candidates would submit the final applications.
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“Since the number of initial applications was well below our expectation, it will be tough to manage the basic costs [of holding exams],” Bangabandhu Digital University VC Prof Munaz Ahmed said.
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Prof Munaz, who is also the convener of the technical committee for the cluster admission tests, continued: “Some say that Tk1,200 is too high a fee, but on average, each year every student earlier had to fork out Tk96,000 to attend multiple admission tests across the country, and girls in particular had to go through a lot of trouble, according to a World Bank study.”
Compared to the usual spending, Tk1,200 is a very small amount, he added.
Asked about the “auto-pass” issue, the professor said education systems were susceptible to changes depending on prevailing circumstances.
Touching upon the Covid-19 pandemic situation, VC Munaz said the exam authorities were trying their utmost to ensure that the candidates did not suffer.
The authorities of the universities are hopeful of holding the written exam in October.
Engineering universities got expected number of applications
Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology (Ruet), Khulna University of Engineering and Technology (Kuet) and Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology (Cuet) joined the cluster admission test system for the first time this year.
The three institutions, with 3,180 seats in total, had received 25,657 applications, of which only 10 were rejected.
The 10 applicants were from English medium institutions and did not meet the necessary requirements, said Cuet Prof Md Moinul Islam, secretary of the combined admission test committee of engineering universities.
The authorities concerned plan to hold the admission tests in October and are waiting for Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) and Dhaka University administrations to announce their admission test dates.
Situation in agricultural universities
The seven agricultural universities had received 76,690 applications and accepted only 34,419 of them. They have 3,419 seats in total.
The ones whose applications were rejected will get Tk700 each in refund.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University VC Dr Md Giashuddin Miah said: “We are not facing any issues as we went through this process last year as well.”
The admission test for agricultural universities would be held on November 27, he said.