Central admission test may face hurdles

A move to arrange a single admission test for all universities has faced hurdles at the initial stage as the five old universities didn’t agree with the proposal. Academic council of Dhaka University, BUET, Chittagong, Rajshahi and Jahangirnagar universities expressed their reluctance to join the project of University Grants Commission (UGC). Obviously, the initiative lost its momentum and UGC has no power over the 1973-ordinence by which all four universities except BUET are being run. 

No doubt, central admission test is a good and theoretically very brilliant step to reduce huge hassles of admission-seekers during their university entry test. This is an attempt to bring all 46-public universities in a single entry process like medical college admission irrespective of different ideas about the admission process. Central admission test or unified admission process is really an effective idea at the most important phase of a student’s life for higher education as it is supposed to save time, money, mental pressure and hassle of admission seekers. This decision has been taken by the University Grants Commission (UGC) according to the directive of the government for the academic session of 2020-2021.  This combined system of admission process was proposed in a bid to avoid different types of preparation for the students of different universities for which students face tremendous pressure.

Universities have different strategies and different mission-vision; accordingly, it announces different fundamental requirements for the entry.  For example, Jagannath University for the last couple of sessions is taking the test on students’ result and an entry test based on their creative writing ability unlike Dhaka University. Dhaka University, on the other hand, introduced almost the same system since 2019-2020 but the type of questions is different.  Jahangirnagar University always follows their individual process and makes the whole system very troublesome. Rajshahi or Chittagong follows their respective and traditional processes not like to that of other universities viz. Khulna, Islamic, Cumilla or Barisal. On the contrary, National University, largest in size, takes an entry test for its affiliated colleges.  BUET follows the most sophisticated filtration process for freshers which is completely distinct to that of general public university. 

Furthermore, the most problematic picture is seen during the test season as the students run helter-skelter without having any rest; for example, shortly after giving exam at Dhaka University they run to Khulna or Rajshahi and on the following day to Chittagong or another places. This has been a very common picture for a long time. Some of the cases, poor students face serious difficulties to arrange the cost of the test-travelling. Of course, poor parents can’t afford to bear this huge cost. For all cases, central admission process would be cost-free and hassle-relieving news for the higher education seekers. Meanwhile, as per the decision, the test will be held at all universities on same question paper in a single day. Nearly 60-thousand students will get their admission for the session of 2020-2021. 

Central admission test or unified

 admission process is really an 

effective idea at the most important phase

 of a student’s life for higher education as it is

 supposed to save time, money,

 mental pressure and hassle of admission seekers

But the picture is not as easy as it is supposed to be. UGC proposes to form a committee to identify the possible way to single out the best students.  But what comes next?  Is it easy to arrange such gigantic and risky project under a single umbrella? Is it possible to make the arrangement regardless of different situation of the universities? Meanwhile academic council of BUET reasoned that it takes the test to select the best candidates so it is not possible to have the same procedure for ordinary and above-ordinary tests. BUET does not allow mediocre students to sit for its admission.  Chittagong on the other hand, takes a very strategic point to wait for a semester for observation.  Dhaka University was half-willing at the first phase and didn’t make it final because of various reasons including its internal pressure. Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University says, as the university runs according to the 1973-ordinance, the decision must be followed in a democratic way. The decision was finally taken to reject the proposal.     

Holding a single examination for technical and general universities is a tough job indeed for UGC because students must have choices for both the classes. If a student wants to apply for Engineering University, how can we select them for general? Should we push them forward to take a subject which they don’t want to pursue? Again, who will be the question setter, who will evaluate the script or whether the test will be on the basis of multiple choice format. Script evaluation is not an easy task if there is no provision for multiple choice question formats.    

Again, leakage of question paper during admission test is a serious issue and many universities face this sort of trouble for years. In spite of tight security and preventive measures new types of fraudulence is seen in the admission test. One of major problems is the accommodation for the respective university. To be certain, in order to accommodate huge number of students, universities use space from different colleges and schools. These colleges or schools are utterly insincere in holding a fair admission test. I have some experiences in invigilating admission seekers in different colleges of Dhaka city. There is a connection between the teachers and question paper leakage. Question paper leakage for MCQ type is the easiest way to do so. To prevent this from happening, many universities, including Dhaka and Jagannath introduced an evaluative format with maximum caution. If all the universities now follow the same route, I suppose, that will be the biggest challenge for the whole system. 

Dr Siddhartha Shankar Joarder, 

Professor, Department of Philosophy, Jagannath University, Dhaka