The University Grants Commission is going to allow private university students, who are at their final semester, to attend practical classes and exams in person.
These classes will be held following strict heath guidelines and maintaining six feet distance between two students.
A maximum of 10 students from each class will be allowed to attend the lab classes and exams, and only one class will take place per day, a UGC member told The Daily Star after a meeting yesterday afternoon.
The virtual meeting was attended by chairman, members and top officials of UGC.
"We have decided that students who are at their final semester before graduation or post-graduation will be allowed to attend practical classes and exams in person," UGC Chairman Prof Kazi Shahidullah told this newspaper.
He said they took the decision as many private universities appealed to them to do so as only a handful of student need to take the practical classes and exams for graduation.
"We are not reopening the universities, we are just allowing them to attend classes and exams under special circumstances," he added.
Prof Shahidullah said the universities will bear all responsibilities for the students.
UGC member Prof Muhammed Alamgir said they are considering the matter as students who are in their final semester are not getting graduation certificates as their lab classes and exams are pending.
UGC in a directive in May said private universities that have completed 70 percent of academic activities for outgoing semester and have been conducting online classes successfully for theoretical courses will be able to evaluate their students through online viva exams and virtual presentations.
UGC said such universities can grade students taking the attendance, assignments, presentations, mid-term exam results into account held before online tests. They can also take results of previous semester into consideration while preparing results for outgoing session.
But it also said practical classes for all laboratory-based courses will have to be completed in the classroom once the situation becomes normal.
All private universities have been closed since March 17 to curb the spread of Covid-19..
Prof Shahidullah said they have also discussed the matter of allowing private universities to withdraw interest from the reserve fund, deposited to a bank.
"They will be able to use the money only to pay salaries of teachers and staff members. We are hearing from sources that many private universities cannot pay them salaries," he said.
According to Private University Act 2010, it is mandatory for each private university to have a reserve fund.
According to law, each private university in Dhaka and Chattogram has a reserve fund of Tk 5 crore, each university in other metropolitan cities has Tk 3 crore, and each university in other places Tk 1.5 crore.