Vice-chancellors of public universities yesterday decided in principle that admission tests for freshers would be held.
After attending a virtual meeting of Bangladesh Bishwabidyalaya Parishad, an association of public university vice-chancellors, they, however, said the date and the method of the exams would be announced later.
"We have decided that admission tests for enrolling students at universities will take place. But it was not decided how the test will be held; whether it will be held in-person or online," Prof Mohammad Rafiqul Alam, VC of Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology, told The Daily Star.
Rafiqul and Chittagong University VC Shirin Akhter said Bangladesh Bishwabidyalaya Parishad would sit in another meeting soon to discuss the method of admission tests.
It is certain that no students will be admitted to a university without admission tests, said Prof Rostom Ali, VC of Pabna University of Science and Technology.
When it comes to higher education, public universities remain students' top choice. But the number of seats is much lower than that of students seeking admission.
Of the 46 public universities, excluding National University, Open University and medical universities, 39 universities have the capacity of enrolling around 65,000 first-year students.
This year, confusion about the admission tests emerged after the government decided to award grades to candidates of Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and equivalent exams without holding the public exams amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead of the exams, candidates' evaluation would be based on their results in the Junior School Certificate, Secondary School Certificate and equivalent tests.
HSC and equivalent exams were cancelled out of fear that they would increase risk of coronavirus transmission. More than 13.65 lakh students were expected to sit for the exams.
The government postponed the exams following the closure of all educational institutions on March 17. They are to stay closed until at least October 30.
The issue of whether this year's HSC exam results will be given any weight in the university admission tests was also discussed in the meeting.
"We will hold further discussions in this regard. We will reach a decision only after discussing the matter with the University Grants Commission and education ministry," said Prof Rostom.
Usually, universities take the GPA of SSC and HSC exams into account, alongside admission tests, while holding the entry exams at public universities.
VCs said Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Digital University VC Prof Munaz Ahmed Noor made a presentation of software through which universities will be able to hold their internal exams online with transparency.
He said, "Some VCs said they can consider online admission tests using the software following its use in internal exams."
Rafiqul and Shirin said the presentation was apparently good.
"But nothing is 100 percent accurate. We will need to scrutinise the software by IT experts before reaching any decision," said Rafiqul.
In a statement after a meeting with public university VCs on Thursday, the UGC said Bangladesh Bishwabidyalaya Parishad, from its meeting yesterday, would decide in principle regarding the admission tests.
"But the UGC wants that no question arises regarding the tests," the statement said.
UGC Chairman Prof Kazi Shahidullah at the meeting said the nation wants a specific guideline from the VCs regarding the admission tests.
Usually, admission tests at public universities are held a month after the publication of HSC results.
Till last year, 32 of the 39 public universities held separate admission tests, and the remaining seven agricultural universities held a uniform admission test.