Most public universities are in a dilemma about whether to conduct admission tests with Covid-19 infections on the rise, but the National University plans to complete freshman admissions for academic session 2020-21 by September this year.
It wants to start classes in the first week of October through online platforms if the coronavirus situation does not improve by then.
Meanwhile, Dhaka University has scheduled its admission tests for 1-23 October. It may change the timing on the basis of Covid conditions in the country. The DU has done so several times before for the very same reason.
"It will not be wise to wait anymore to complete admissions. Those seeking admission have already lost almost one year. So, we have asked the honours colleges to prepare in earnest to end the admission process smoothly," said Professor Dr Moshiur Rahman, vice-chancellor of National University (NU).
"It will be tough and sometimes impossible for students and their guardians to pay admission fees across conventional banking channels if the Covid-19 pandemic does not subside. We will accept fees through mobile banking services, such as bKash and Nagad, to reduce the risk of infection for students."
A good number of students leave the National University even after admission when they qualify at different public universities every year. If National University completes its admissions ahead of other public universities, a record number of students may leave NU this year.
However, according to Dr Moshiur, typically, at most 1% of students leave after joining NU in any given year.
"We will take in wait listed students if admitted and accepted students shift to other public universities. I don't see any problem in going ahead and launching our academic year now," he said.
There are now about 32 lakh students enrolled in colleges all over the country under the National University system.
There are 4.36 lakh seats at 867 government honours colleges and another 4 lakh seats for honours pass courses' students.
On 16 June, NU promoted 3.16 lakh first-year students without any examinations when the NU authorities could not hold examinations with educational institutions remaining closed for a long time due to the pandemic.
Their view was that "Most colleges have completed examinations and we will promote students on the basis of those results. Generally, 95% of students pass the first-year examinations every year. So, it will not be harmful if we promote everyone automatically."
On 17 March last year, the government closed all educational institutes and coaching centres as part of its effort to contain the spread of the deadly virus.
The government also did not hold the Primary School Completion (PSC), Junior School Certificate (JSC), and their equivalent exams last year due to the pandemic.
The PSC and JSC examinees were promoted automatically, while HSC students were assessed based on their JSC and SSC results. All students from the primary to the secondary level were also promoted automatically.
In the meantime, the government is considering providing the SSC and HSC results for 2021 through assignment evaluation instead of holding in-person examinations.
About 4.5 crore students from the pre-primary to higher education levels are enrolled in nearly two lakh educational institutions across the country.