The University Grants Commission (UGC) finally has made the decision of holding a uniform admission test for enrolling students in the country's public universities from this year (2020-2021 academic session).
The decision was taken at a meeting between the UGC and vice-chancellors of public universities yesterday.
Under this new unified admission test system, admission seekers would sit once for the test and get admitted to universities on the basis of merit. From now on, students need not waste time, money and efforts in appearing at tests in different public universities across the country.
"All of us have agreed to take the uniform admission test from this year. But the test process is yet to be decided," said Professor Dil Afroza Begum, a UGC member.
"Students who have passed their HSC or equivalent examinations will be eligible for the admission test, based on the high school curriculum for Humanities, Business Studies and Sciences," she added.
Professor Dr Farid Uddin, VC of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (Sust), who participated in the meeting, told The Business Standard, "The admission seekers and their guardians face several kinds of problems during the admission test period as they have to move around between the universities. The meeting has considered their sufferings, and finally decided to hold the uniform admission test."
"Uniform medical admission tests have been held for long. No irregularities were found in the system," added the Sust VC.
Professor Dr Kazi Shahidullah, chairman of the UGC, told this correspondent that the UGC would form a committee through consultations with public university VCs to conduct the admission test as a top priority.
"We will hold several other meetings with the VCs and especially with the university administrations which are conducted under the 1973 Ordinance," he said.
"The president and the prime minister asked the UGC several times for a decision to hold the uniform admission test. None of the VCs opposed the decision on Thursday. Actually, it is also the demand of the times," the UGC chairman said.
Last year, uniform admission tests were held at the seven agricultural universities of the country.
The institutions are Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, Bangladesh Agricultural University, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University, Sylhet Agricultural University, Khulna Agricultural University, Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, and Patuakhali University of Science and Technology.
The 38 other public universities administered separate admission tests for the 2019-20 session.
Meanwhile, the education ministry has been campaigning to introduce a unified admission test with a view to reducing the sufferings of and expenses incurred by admission seekers.
But the universities had been opposing it as the system would reduce income for them from the sale of admission forms and from invigilation and checking of answer scripts.
The students would need to buy admission forms from between Tk 400 and 700 each, and also spent a handsome amount on journeying to the universities to sit for the tests.
There are cases when candidates even take separate tests for seats in separate faculties and departments of the same university. At times, the test dates of different universities coincide, creating a dilemma for admission seekers.
The UGC has long been advocating for the cluster system, suggesting in several of its previous annual reports a modification of the admission process, terming it too expensive, questionable and coaching-oriented.
A UGC study in May 2013 found that an admission seeker had to spend an average of Tk 43,100 on coaching and other admission-related expenditures.
The study found that 93 percent of admission seekers took coaching classes to pursue higher education in the public universities of the country.
On November 2, 2016, President Abdul Hamid expressed himself in favour of an introduction of a unified university admission test to reduce the sufferings of admission seekers, especially female students.
The President said the entrance examination of each university was held separately, which forced students to rush from one district to another by spending huge sums of money. These students and their guardians also faced a harrowing time in arranging accommodation, transport and food, he added.
The President reiterated his views on different occasions.