Most public universities are mulling the issue of not taking into consideration the SSC and HSC marks in the first-year admission test, which used to carry weight in exams for the tertiary education enrolment.
The marks of Secondary and Higher Secondary School Certificate examinations used to play a pivotal role in raising the combined total scores of university admission seekers and increasing their chances of getting selected.
Since the government has decided not to hold the HSC and its equivalent examinations this year due to the ongoing pandemic and instead publish results based on students' Junior School Certificate (JSC) and SSC exam performances, all public university authorities are also contemplating holding their admission tests without considering SSC and HSC marks.
According to sources, most of the public universities will go for combined tests for enrolment. Dhaka University, Jahangirnagar University, Chittagong University, Rajshahi University and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) will hold their admission tests separately.
The convener of the combined university admission test committee, Prof Mijanur Rahman, who is also the vice-chancellor of Jagannath University, said a test taker will be evaluated on the basis of a written test.
"We will not count the SSC and HSC marks in this year's admission test. This will be the best way to bypass the earlier practice that used to count the marks of the two last two public exams."
"I will also discuss the issue at a meeting with vice-chancellors," Prof Mijan told The Business Standard.
Agreeing with Prof Mijan, University Grants Commission member Prof Dr Dil Afroza Begum said there is no alternative but to drop the SSC and HSC marks from consideration for enrolment tests in the best interest of the students.
"We have called a meeting of vice-chancellors on 15 October. We will hold an elaborate discussion there. Our stance is to waive the marks of the two public exams and make sure that we pick meritorious students for higher education through written tests," she said.
This year all 13 lakh HSC examinees will pass – the first time that the country will be witnessing a 100% pass in HSC without any examinations. The move will virtually enable all admission seekers to go for university admission tests.
According to data, the pass rate in HSC examinations is on average 70% over the preceding five years. Some 12.17 lakh students take part in the examinations and 8.57 lakh emerge successful, suggesting that 3.60 lakh students fail every year.
Every time some 1-2 lakh students cannot apply for university admission tests because of their poor SSC and HSC results as no university permits admission aspirants to appear for tests if their results are below GPA 2.50.
Talking to this correspondent, Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Prof Akhtaruzzaman said the university counts 30 marks on SSC and 50 marks on HSC results. "We will definitely decide on a waiving of the marks, considering the present situation," he said.
DU holds admission tests based on 200 marks. A candidate must sit for MCQ (Multiple Choice Question) test of 120 marks while another 80 marks are predicated on SSC and HSC exam results.
Prof AK Azad Chowdhury, former vice-chancellor of Dhaka University and former UGC chairman, said it will not be wise to count the SSC and HSC marks for the upcoming university admission tests.
"The Dhaka University VC as well as other VCs called me and sought suggestions. They are all thinking of disregarding the SSC and HSC marks," he said.
Prof Syed Anwar Husain, a noted educationist, shared his views on the matter with this correspondent. He was of the opinion that the ongoing pandemic has changed everything. As such, the admission system needs to be overhauled.
On the same page with other VCs, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology Vice-Chancellor Prof Farid Uddin Ahmed said the university is thinking about the admission test issue and will take a decision after discussions with the authorities concerned.
Sources said the four engineering universities only count qualifying marks in Physics, Chemistry, Math and English as a condition for allowing students to go for admission tests. They hold written tests separately.
The four are Buet, Khulna University of Engineering and Technology, Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology and Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology.
Prof Dr AKM Masud, former president of Buet Teachers' Association, said, "We only count the marks of Physics, Chemistry, Math and English obtained at HSC. If admission seekers have the qualifying marks, we welcome them to take the test."
The admission tests will be organised in four phases. The admission tests of engineering, agricultural and general universities will be in three phases while Buet, Dhaka University, Jahangirnagar University, Rajshahi University and Chattogram University will hold the tests separately.
There are currently 60,000 seats at 39 public universities in the country.