Students seeking admission to the country’s public universities will no longer need to sit for separate tests from the next academic year as a centralised entrance test will allow their entry to the universities.
The decision to hold the uniform admission test was made unanimously at yesterday’s meeting between vice-chancellors and University Grants Commission, the statutory apex body for higher education, at the latter’s office in the capital.
“We’ve decided that there will be a single admission test at the public universities from 2020-2021 academic year,” UGC member Prof Muhammed Alamgir told The Daily Star.
He said students from humanities, business studies, and science groups would be eligible to take the admission test, which will be held based on HSC syllabus.
The universities will enrol students on the basis of their scores in the exam and university-set requirement, he said.
Asked whether it would be a written or multiple-choice questions exam, he said the admission procedure would be finalised in detail soon.
“We will soon sit with VCs of four universities, which are run under the 1973 university act, and other leading universities to have a detailed discussion on introducing the uniform admission test,” Prof Alamgir said.
Last year, seven public agricultural universities introduced the uniform admission test, known as “the cluster system”. The other 38 public universities held separate entry tests.
Besides the agricultural universities, medical colleges have a uniform entrance test.
The decision of uniform admission test comes after President Abdul Hamid, also chancellor of all public universities, on several occasions asked the public universities to hold admission tests centrally to reduce hassles of the admission seekers and their guardians.
The UGC too wanted to introduce the uniform admission test.
Every year, admission seekers face a huge amount of pressure when they prepare for separate tests for separate universities.
The candidates buy admission forms from different universities and spend a lot of time and money for travel and accommodation. They travel, often with parents or guardians, across the country and sometimes have to check in hotels to take part in admission tests.
There are cases when candidates even take separate tests for a seat at separate faculties, even separate departments, under the same university. Sometimes the dates of admission tests of different universities coincide.
To ease the admission seekers’ hassles, the education ministry in 2010 decided to introduce the uniform admission test, dubbed as cluster system.
It suggested that universities of similar characteristics be brought under a cluster for which a single admission test would be held.
Under the system, admission seekers would be enrolled at public universities based on the merit list prepared from one single test.
For example, students would take one test for a place in any of the science and technology universities and another test for a place in any of the agricultural universities.
But some public universities have been opposing the idea as its implementation would cut the income of the universities and teachers from the sale of admission forms, invigilation and checking of answer scripts, said officials of the education ministry and UGC.
The public universities also argued that holding a single admission test would lose their distinction from others and such a test would compromise the quality of the test.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, UGC Chairman Prof Kazi Shahidullah said apart from the president’s directive, the association of public university vice-chancellors last year decided to hold the uniform entry test.
“Today, people want a uniform admission test,” he said.
For higher education, public universities remain on top of students’ choice. But the number of seats too is way smaller than the number of students passing every year.
Last year, some 9.88 lakh students passed the HSC and its equivalent examinations under 10 education boards.
But the number of seats at public universities is around 65,000, according to the education ministry.