The University Grants Commission is considering allowing public universities to hold exams online keeping in mind that it would benefit students and also reduce session jams.
Vice chancellors of all public universities will sit in a meeting with the UGC on Thursday to discuss the process of holding online exams.
"UGC is considering that all public universities will complete student assessments online. We will sit in a meeting with VCs to discuss the assessment system of public universities. We cannot sit idle as the pandemic situation is uncertain," UGC Member Prof Muhammed Alamgir told The Daily Star.
But taking exams online also depends on the universities as their academic councils or other bodies concerned will have the final say in this regard, he added.
Public universities were holding online classes as they could not take in-person classes since March 17 last year when the government closed all educational institutions due to the pandemic.
The closure has been extended till May 23 this year in phases.
According to UGC statistics, there are 49 public universities in the country. About 3 lakh students are studying at these universities sans National University, Islamic University and Bangladesh Open University.
UGC top officials said a committee formed by the commission has prepared a draft guideline on how to take online exams. The guideline will be presented before the meeting on Thursday.
The guideline says public university students have completed theory classes for two semesters since April last year, but they are yet to sit the semester final exams. Students are losing interest in their studies as they are not sure when the exams will be held.
It mentions that grades can be awarded to students after taking online exams on specific subjects by giving "creative assignments", "creative quiz/ MCQ questions", and holding "time constrained class tests" and "viva voce" exams.
Practical tests will be held after normalcy returns.
"Universities can choose all the options or two or three of them. But students should keep the camera and microphone of their devices on while taking the exams online," said a member of guideline formation committee.
The member said the UGG will keep in mind that there is acceptability of the exams and no student is affected. Its other concerns are shortage of digital devices of students, uninterrupted internet access and stopping adoption of unfair means by students during exams.
Prof Mohammad Rafiqul Alam, president of Bangladesh Bishwabidyalaya Parishad, an association of public university vice-chancellors, and also the VC of Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology, said some universities, including CUET, were taking semester final exams in line with the decisions of their academic councils.
"There are some advantages and disadvantages of online exams. How long will we sit idle amid the pandemic? There are some obstacles including shortage of digital devices and uninterrupted internet access. We will need to remove those obstacles," he added.
Alamgir said they would discuss the issues with the VCs in the meeting.
In December last year, UGC had said public universities can hold their honour's and masters final year examinations as per decisions taken by their respective academic councils, following proper health safety measures.
VCs of many public universities at that time wanted to hold exams to avoid session jams and ensure that students qualify for taking upcoming BCS exams.