Rubina Akther (not real name), a student of the Sociology Department at Dhaka University, is now in her hometown Thakurgaon, but she would have to come to Dhaka for her honours final year examination.
A resident student of Sufia Kamal Hall, Rubina has no relative in Dhaka with whom she can stay during the examinations as the hall has been closed since March. Now she is worried about finding a place to stay during her exams.
Thousands of students like Rubina are worried as they are now staying at home and most of them have no place to stay other than their residential halls during the exams.
The crisis came to the fore after the University Grants Commission (UGC) recently allowed public universities to hold their honours and master's final year examinations maintaining social distancing. However, it did not allow the universities to reopen their residential halls.
Syed Rafi, a fourth year student of Computer Science and Engineering at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST), told The Business Standard that he has nowhere to stay outside the hall during the time of the exams as house owners ask for a huge amount of rent, clearly taking advantage of the students' accommodation crisis.
"I need a room for one month at most. But no one agreed to rent their home for a month only. I cannot stay in a rented house for months. I do not know what I will do now," Rafi said.
Professor Farid Uddin Ahmed, vice chancellor of SUST, told TBS that he had raised the issue at the UGC meeting held on 13 December, and asked the commission how the students would take part in the examinations if the halls remained closed.
"I have arranged some rooms for the students considering their trouble. But that is actually not sufficient," he said.
Professor Dr Akhtaruzzaman, vice-chancellor of Dhaka University, told TBS that the halls will remain closed and the decision is final. But the university will look into the students' problems.
"We have asked the departments to try to resolve the students' problems," he said.
Meanwhile, some universities have already announced the dates for the final examinations of different semesters.
The exams will start at Dhaka University from 26 December, at SUST from 17 January, at Jagannath University from 20 December and at Begum Rokeya University from 27 December.
UGC Chairman Professor Kazi Shahidullah told TBS that the commission gave universities permission to take the examinations but it did not allow them to open halls as coronavirus cases are on the rise in the country.
On 13 December, the UGC recommended that the public universities can take the final examinations by maintaining strict health guidelines with the permission of their respective academic councils.
It also said practical classes, especially for Science, Technology, Agriculture and Medicine, must be held gradually and students of the last semester will get priority in taking practical classes.
The UGC also said residential halls will remain closed as the government did not allow any educational institutions to reopen their campuses.
The UGC also recommended that students be present one hour before the commencement of the exams and leave the campus after finishing the exams.
Online academic activities will continue during the examinations.
The universities must follow the guidelines issued by the World Health Organization to avoid the spread of Covid-19.