The government has failed to fully introduce a uniform admission test for public universities even nine years after taking a decision in this regard to ease the hassle of admission seekers and their guardians.
Only seven public agricultural universities are going to introduce the uniform admission test, known as “the cluster system” this year. The other 38 public universities will hold separate admission tests like in the past, said officials of the education ministry and the University Grants Commission (UGC).
The number of seats too is way below the number of students who passed.
Some 9.88 lakh students have passed the HSC and its equivalent examinations under the education 10 boards. Of them, 47,286 got GPA-5, while 5.07 lakh scored GPA-3.5 and above.
But the number of seats at public universities is around 65,000, according to the education ministry.
Usually, a student having scored at least GPA-3.5 in HSC or equivalent tests is eligible to apply to a university.
The education ministry in 2010 decided in principle to introduce the cluster system to relieve admission seekers from hassles and the pressure they face while preparing for separate tests for separate universities.
President Abdul Hamid, also chancellor of all public universities, in February last year asked all universities to form a uniform admission system. But the decision has not yet been implemented fully.
Under the system, admission seekers would be enrolled at public universities based on the merit list prepared from one single test.
For example, students would take one test for a place in any of the science and technology universities and another test for a place in any of the agriculture universities.
That would relieve admission seekers from the wasted time, costs and travels required to take separate admission tests for different public universities. At present, only medical colleges have a uniform entrance test.
“We are on track about introducing the cluster system for agriculture universities. We are determined to start the system,” said Prof Kamal Uddin Ahamed, president of Bangladesh Bishwabidyalaya Parishad, an association of public university vice-chancellors.
“So far, we have decided to hold one single test,” Kamal, also VC of Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, told The Daily Star.
Bangladesh Bishwabidyalaya Parishad in a meeting yesterday decided that Bangladesh Agricultural University, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University, Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, Sylhet Agricultural University, Khulna Agricultural University, Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Sciences University and Patuakhali Science and Technology University would introduce the cluster admission system this year.
Kamal said that the instructions regarding the uniform admission system were complex and they have already held several meetings to fix the procedure.
Education ministry officials said that some public universities have been opposing the idea of the “cluster system” from the beginning, as its implementation would cut the income of the universities as well as teachers from the sale of admission forms and from invigilation and checking answer scripts.
“They might consider themselves competent in holding admission tests. They might also fear that the cluster system may make lose their standard,” Kamal added.
Students, meanwhile, are the ones who would have to take the trouble.
They would need to buy admission forms for Tk 400 to Tk 700 each and also spend a handsome amount on travelling to universities to sit for each of the tests.
There are cases when candidates even take separate tests for seats in separate faculties and departments of the same university.
Sometimes the dates of admission tests of different universities coincide.
The UGC has long been advocating for the cluster system, suggesting in several of its previous annual reports to modify 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 expenditure.
The study found 93 per cent of admission seekers take coaching classes to get admitted to higher education institutions.
Education Minister Dipu Moni hoped that the uniform admission test system would be introduced in “most of the public universities” next year.
“Some universities want to conduct the admission tests on their own,” she said, adding that, “The vice chancellor’s council is discussing the issue and we want to come to a decision on the uniform admission system this year.”