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Nearly a year disappears as students pursue varsities

Mir Mohammad Jasim
06 Feb 2024 22:03:36 | Update: 06 Feb 2024 22:03:36
Nearly a year disappears as students pursue varsities

Enayet passed the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examination from Dhaka College back in November, and he is planning to get admission at one of the public universities in the country. But he needs to wait for another six months to take admission tests.

Even if Enayet succeeds at getting admission to a university of his choice, he will actually have to wait for around two months to start classes. So, Enayet and thousands of other students just like him are set to lose almost nine months of his life just waiting around.

Speaking to The Business Post about his dilemma, Enayet said, “Many students are busy with coaching to prepare for admission tests. But I have no need for coaching. Due to this waiting game, I am losing months from my life sitting idle.

“I do not know why the university authorities do not take any initiatives to reduce the amount of time required for the admission process.”

Echoing a similar sentiment, Sumaiya, who passed her HSC exams from Viqarunnisa Noon School & College last year, said, “I want to get admission to an agricultural public university, but why should I have to wait for 6-8 months for my admission?

“I think that the ongoing delay in our admission process is being caused by negligence of the authorities. They might not even realise that it is a waste of the students’ time.”

There are 10,67,852 students who passed the HSC exam last year, and most of them are losing almost a year from their lives due to this unfair delay.

The authorities concerned – including those at the Ministry of Education, University Grants Commission and public universities across the country – currently have no initiatives to address this issue, insiders told The Business Post.

The Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and its equivalent examinations 2023 ended on September 25 last year. The exam results were published last November.

But the admission seekers have been waiting to appear for the public university admission tests scheduled to be held at the end of May this year. The students have to wait for another two months to complete their admission process.

Education experts say there is no reason to delay this admission process, and the issue indicates negligence and irresponsibility in the system. They added that the public university authorities should complete the admission process within two months.

Prof Dr Biswajit Chanda, member of the University Grants Commission (UGC), told The Business Post, “We recommended to the ministry to form a Central Admission Exam Authority to conduct the entire admission process, which will save the students’ time.

“Exams can be held two/three times a year to enroll new students. It is unfortunate that the existing system is too lengthy. I am optimistic that the new minister will take effective initiatives to reform the admission process.”

Dr Mohammad Ali Zinnah, a professor of Dhaka University’s Institute of Education and Research, said, “Many public university teachers are busy with their academic activities. But it is possible to complete the admission process in 2 to 3 months every year.

Students in state of dismay

According to a study in 2022 conducted by the Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST), at least 74 per cent of the country’s students seeking university admission are suffering from depression. It found academic results as one of the key reasons behind their depression. 

Sajjadul Islam, an admission seeker, said, “I am unable to enter university admission coaching as my family’s financial health is very poor. I am going to lose 8 to 10 months before starting higher education.

“If I happen to fail the admission test, I will have to wait for another one year. I am deeply concerned about my academic career. I studied the SSC and HSC academic curricula thoroughly. But I am concerned as the admission questions are mostly out of our syllabus.”

Admission tests in different universities

Admission tests at 34 out of 56 public universities will start from April 27 and end on May 11. The universities are set to begin classes for the academic session 2023-24 from July this year.

A total of 10.67 lakh students passed the HSC and its equivalent examinations, but only 40,000 students will get the chance to enrol into all the universities under the uniform admission system.

Prof Dr Anwar Hossain, vice-chancellor of Jashore University of Science and Technology (JSTU), and also the convener of the combined admission test committee, said, “Holding the combined admission test is a very tough task.

“We announce the date after ensuring full technical support.”

Dhaka University admission tests will start from February 23 and end on March 9. The tentative date of classes to start is May. Meanwhile, admission tests at Rajshahi University will start from March 6 and the classes are set to begin from July.

Jahangirnagar University is expected to end the admission test by February and classes will start in May. Chittagong University’s admission test will end in March and the classes will start in May.

The admission test result of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) will be published on March 31, and the classes may start in May.

The National University authorities had decided in 2021 that they will enrol new students just after the HSC results are announced. In line with this plan, it will complete the admission process by February, and classes will begin in March.

National University Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Md Mashiur Rahman said, “It is possible to complete the admission process within two months of the announcement of HSC and its equivalent exam results.

“We actually have no right to waste the students' valuable time. I hope the authorities concerned will take an initiative to complete the admission process in a short time frame from the next academic year.”

Tk150cr coaching business

Centring the upcoming university admission tests, at least twenty big and small coaching centres started enrolling admission seekers soon after the HSC results were published back in November.

Industry insiders say nearly one lakh students get admitted to coaching centres across the country annually. On average, the students pay Tk 15,000 each for the coaching purpose. That means, the coaching centres take Tk 150 crore from the students.

Mahmudul Hasan Sohag, founder of Udvash admission coaching centre, told The Business Post, “Our classes benefit students. We also provide a maximum discount to the underprivileged students.”

Prof Dr Siddiqur Rahman, former director of Institute of Education and Research at Dhaka University, said, “Our academic and admission tests lack validity and reliability.

“The students are compelled to enroll at coaching centres as they pass SSC and HSC exams with a lack of knowledge. The coaching centre's owners are taking advantage of this situation to drum up their businesses.”

The government should take immediate action to reshuffle the total exam procedure, he added.

Many prefer private universities

Rifat Hossain took admission at the Department of Mechanical Engineering of International University of Business Agriculture and Technology in January this year and is already concentrating on his studies.

He will participate in the first semester exams when most of the public universities are only starting classes.

"My family is reluctant to waste my time and that is why they decided to admit me to a private university,” he said.

A good number of families just like Rifat's, who are able to afford it, have decided to admit their sons or daughters to private universities, rather than wasting time on admitting them to public universities.

A brief history of admission tests

Dhaka University used to admit students based on their SSC and HSC results, and took viva-voce till 1967 or 1968.

This university took the initiative to take the written exams for enrolling new students after the number of admission seekers started rising steadily, recalled Prof Dr Siddiqur Rahman, former director of Institute of Education and Research at Dhaka University.

But the students’ time was not wasted by the lengthy admission process until 2000. Such delays in the process are relatively recent, he added.