In a major development, 19 public universities announced the minimum requirement for appearing in the admission test and question patterns for what officials said would be the first-ever uniform admission test.
The universities agreed earlier this month to hold the test titled "Central Admission Test" to reduce the hassles faced by admission seekers.
Vice chancellors of the 19 universities at a meeting yesterday decided that there will be three exams in the test -- one each for science, humanities and business studies students -- based on Higher Secondary Certificate exams syllabus.
The test will be held at all the 19 universities and students who passed HSC-level exams this year and 2019 with a certain GPA will be eligible to participate in the test.
The new method of admission has been in discussion since 2010. It was aimed at relieving the admission seekers from having to travel to different universities in different parts of the country every admission season just to be able to sit for the tests.
However, Dhaka University, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), Rajshahi University, Jahangirnagar University and Chattogram University opted out of the system.
But Buet recently showed interest in participating, said Prof Muhammed Alamgir, member of the University Grants Commission (UGC).
After yesterday's meeting at Jagannath University, it's VC Prof Mijanur Rahman told The Daily Star that there would only be multiple choice questions in the exams and a student would get a score between 0 and 100.
"It was also discussed whether the test should be held when there are fewer Covid-19 cases," he said.
Students of science, humanities and business, who want to switch to other disciplines, will no longer be required to sit for an additional exam, he added.
Barishal University VC Prof Sadequl Arefin said the minimum GPA required for science students would be seven, combining the SSC and HSC results. The requirements for business students would be 6.5 and humanities students 6.
Anyone with a GPA below 3 in either exam will not be eligible, he said.
Sadequl added that it would be up to the individual universities to decide whether to take SSC and HSC results into their consideration in the admission process.
Also, it will be up to the individual universities to decide whether to give a chance to second time admission seekers, according to Mijanur and Sadequl.
They added that humanities students will need to answer 40-mark Bangla, 35-mark English and 25-mark ICT 25 questions. Business students will get 25-mark accounting, 25-mark management, 13-mark Bangla, 12-mark English and 25-mark ICT questions.
A science student will get 10-mark English, 10-mark Bangla, 20-mark Chemistry, 20-mark Physics and 20-mark questions on any two subjects from ICT, mathematics and biology.
The 19 public universities are, Jagannath University, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Khulna University, Begum Rokeya University, Islamic University, Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science and Technology University, Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University, Noakhali Science and Technology University, Comilla University, Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University, Jessore University of Science and Technology, Pabna University of Science and Technology, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University, University of Barishal, Rangamati Science and Technology University, Rabindra University, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Digital University, Sheikh Hasina University, and Bangamata Sheikh Fojilatunnesa Mujib Science and Technology University.
On January 23 last year, the UGC announced that it would hold a uniform admission test in the 2020-2021 academic year. In February, it was decided in principle that universities would hold the admission test in a method called cluster system.
Public universities remain the students' top choice. But the number of seats is way lower than that of the students.
About a million students pass the HSC and its equivalent exams every year, and the public universities enrol around 65,000.
As of last year, 32 of the 39 public universities held separate admission tests, and the remaining seven agricultural universities held a uniform admission test.
Alamgir said that seven agricultural universities will form a cluster of agriculture universities.
Chattogram University of Engineering and Technology, Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology and Khulna University of Engineering and Technology, in principle, decided to form another cluster. Buet authorities have shown interest in joining this cluster.
UGC officials said Bangladesh University of Textiles, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Aviation and Aerospace University, and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Maritime University have also shown interest in joining this cluster.
"We will sort the matter out very soon," Alamgir said.