The Deans Committee of Dhaka University has decided to hold the university entrance tests this year in eight divisional centres across the country to ensure participation of all admission aspirants.
"We will not hold online admission tests as not all locations in the country have internet access. If we hold the tests online, a good number of talented students will be deprived of the chance to try out for Dhaka University," DU Social Science Faculty Dean, Prof Sadeka Halim told The Business Standard.
"In Tuesday's meeting, all Deans agreed that there is no alternative to taking the admission test in person. So, we have decided to hold it in public universities and government colleges in divisional cities," she said.
"Also, we will not be able to ensure minimum quality standards if we hold the tests online, she said.
Sources said the date for enrollment test will be announced after the publication of the HSC results in December. The tests are likely to be held in January, allowing the university administration to make the necessary arrangements in the interim.
Some 2.5 lakh to 3 lakh admission seekers compete for 7,000 seats at Dhaka University every year. The university authorities try to select the best candidates through the in-take tests.
To ensure the enrollment of quality students, DU decided last year that Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) test would be administered for 75 marks, 45 marks would be allocated for a written component, and the remaining 80 marks would be set aside for SSC and HSC results.
"But this year, total marks for the admission tests have been reduced from 200 to 100. Of the total marks, 80 will be reserved for the written component, that includes MCQs (30 marks) and essay-type questions (50 marks). 20 marks will be allocated for SSC and HSC results," said Prof Sadeka Halim.
Secondary and Higher Secondary School Certificate examination marks used to play a pivotal role in boosting the combined total scores of university admission seekers, thereby improving their chances of getting selected.
Since the government has decided not to hold the HSC and its equivalent examinations this year in light of the ongoing pandemic and instead publish results based on the students' Junior School Certificate (JSC) and SSC exam performances, public university authorities had considered disregarding SSC and HSC marks.
All 13 lakh HSC examinees will pass this year – the first time that the country will witness a 100% pass in HSC without any examinations. The move will virtually enable all admission seekers to try out for the university admission tests.
According to data, the pass rate in HSC examinations has been 70% on average over the last five years. Some 12.17 lakh students take part in the examinations, of which 8.57 lakh emerge successful, suggesting that 3.60 lakh students fail every year.
Given that aspirants with a GPA below 2.50 are not permitted by universities to appear for tests, some 1-2 lakh students with poor SSC and HSC grades are unable to sit for these admission tests.
DU Vice-Chancellor Aktaruzzaman told TBS that, "The Deans Committee took the decision considering every aspect of the current situation. We will do whatever needs to be done to look for meritorious students."
"We will not increase the number of seats this year," he added.
On October 17, Bangladesh Bishwabidyalaya Parishad, an association of public university vice-chancellors, decided to hold admission tests for the academic year 2020-21.
The decision was made on Saturday during an online meeting of public university vice-chancellors. Most of them supported holding the tests online.
The admission tests will be organised in four phases. For engineering, agricultural and general universities, the tests will be held in three phases, while BUET, Dhaka, Jahangirnagar, Rajshahi and Chattogram Universities will hold the tests separately.
There are now 60,000 seats in 39 public universities across the country.