Government mulls central entry test for universities from next year

Cluster admission tests will continue to be held this year

The government is considering the introduction of a central admission test for both public and private universities from next year in order to ease the enrolment process for new students as well as the financial burden on their parents.

The central entry test is likely to be similar to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), or medical admission tests of the country, a top government official recently told Dhaka Tribune. 

Cluster admission tests will continue to be held this year, the official added.

The issue was discussed in a views exchange meeting between the Ministry of Education, the vice-chancellors of public universities, and the University Grants Commission last week. Challenges of cluster admission tests and other issues related to universities were also discussed.

Delays in the publication of test results, the slow admission process, and seats at universities remaining vacant were some of the other major issues discussed at the meeting.

Asking to remain anonymous, one of the vice-chancellors told this correspondent: “We will reduce the internal subject migration deadline, which is a major reason for not completing the admission process on time.”

At present, students are given 10 to 12 days for internal subject migration. Although this is convenient for students, it creates a litany of problems for the authorities of universities and for some students as well.

Some universities wish to take admission tests independently, instead of following the cluster system, the VC added.

Five public universities - Dhaka University (DU), Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), Rajshahi University(RU), Jahangirnagar University (JU), and Chottogram University (CU) – were not invited to the meeting. These universities, with the exception of Buet, operate under the 1973 Ordinance and hold independent admission tests.

The Ministry of Education is trying to bring the five universities under the unified admission system. 

On December 19, 2020, for the first time, the vice-chancellors of 20 public universities of the country took the decision to implement admission tests for the academic year 2020-21 in a cluster system.

The cluster admission test is yet to prove fully successful, as all universities are yet to come under a unified platform. As a result, the government has begun considering a central exam system.

On January 12, President Md Abdul Hamid gave his consent to a national admission test to enrol new students in both public and private universities. 

On February 8, Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni said that the government hoped universities across the country would hold admission tests under uniform procedures from now on.

Once all universities implemented the new procedure, hassles for students would come down to a great extent, she added. 

If there is any hindrance in the existing  law to arranging a central admission test, the government should amend the law so that all the universities can be included in this system easily, without any reservations, the minister further said.