The University Grants Commission (UGC) yesterday asked private universities to stop assigning their current students grades through online exams and evaluation, and to stop enrolling new students sans admission tests, due to the shutdown of educational institutions in light of the novel coronavirus outbreak in the country.
"Several universities have decided to assign grades to students without holding semester final exams and evaluation, and enroll new students without admission tests. This is unethical," UGC said in a statement yesterday. "We urge them to stop these activities immediately," it added.
Top UGC officials said they made the statement following a report on The Daily Star published on Sunday.
Two reputed private universities -- Brac University and Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB) -- had decided on March 24 that they would not be holding final exams for the spring semester, and asked faculty members to complete students' grading based on coursework completed so far.
However, Brac University Pro-Vice Chancellor Prof Mohammad Tamim on Sunday afternoon confirmed to The Daily Star that they had moved away from their earlier decision, and have formed a committee to find a way out of the situation.
Meanwhile, three private universities -- IUB, United International University (UIU), and the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) -- have decided to enroll students for the summer semester without an admissions test, based only on their SSC and HSC results, officials of the universities had told The Daily Star last week.
UGC, in their yesterday's statement, said an earlier statement of their on March 24 had encouraged teachers to give online classes.
"We urged them to hold online classes to keep students in touch with education activities and recover the losses due to the current crisis," UGC chairman Kazi Shahidullah told The Daily Star.
"We did not urge them to give exams, or do any kind of evaluation online. Many students do not have internet access or they now out of internet coverage. How will they participate in these exams and evaluation processes?" he added.
In most private universities, semester final exam carries 30 to 40 percent marks of the whole semester.
He also said if university authorities continue their admission process amid this crisis, it will send a bad signal to guardians. "We will have time to sort out this issues when normalcy returns. This is high time to act together to face the crisis that the country or the world have never have faced in the past", he added.
Private universities enroll students in three semesters -- spring (January to April), summer (May to August) and fall (September to December). About 25 percent of total students admitted enroll in the summer semester.
There are 105 private universities in the country, of which 97 are licensed to carry out academic activities.