Public varsities on road to session jams

The country’s higher educational institutions will fall into serious session jams as all the 46 public universities have remained closed since March 24, throwing thousands of students into uncertainty.

The universities that had no session jam are also falling into at least a one year session jam amid the pandemic.

Many students, pursuing higher education at different public universities, have expressed concern over applying for jobs. They have demanded immediate decisions on holding examinations.    

Imon Ahamed, a fourth-year student of Chattogram University, said, “Private universities have opted for online-based system to continue their academic activities as well as examinations, but our university has still taken no steps regarding exams.”

“We have already suffered more than one and a half years of session jam. University should at least make a decision to conduct unfinished examinations immediately,” he opined.

It is known that the fear of long-term session jam grips 11 departments including Anthropology, Institute of Modern Languages, English, Zoology, Statistics, Physics, Sports Science and Economics at Chattogram University due to the closure of educational institutions. 

In this regard, the University VC, Dr Shireen Akhter told Bangladesh Post, “We are conducting online classes. But, it is not possible to conduct an Academic Council meeting to decide on exams now.”

On the other hand, it is known that student participation in online classes has been decreasing gradually. 

Amirul Kabir, a third-year student at Rajshahi University said, “Online classes started in some departments at the beginning of the covid-19 outbreak, but have gradually decreased. At present, many departments are not continuing online classes.

The Ministry of Education and the University Grants Commission (UGC) are trying to give support to public universities to implement full-phase online classes. 

However, according to students, online classes are not getting momentum at most of the public universities. The participation of students in online classes is decreasing gradually.

Inan Afnan Noha, a first year student at Chattogram University said, “At first, the participation rate in online classes was nearly 70 percent, now it has reduced to 30 percent.” 

Most of the students opined that they feel bored and do not understand the online classes.

 “We do not learn anything from the online class. Teachers are giving assignments online. But we don’t understand how it will be done,” said Mahmuda, a fourth year student at Dhaka University.   

In this regard, Professor of Institute of Education and Research (IER) of Dhaka University, Dr Mohammad Ali Zinnah told Bangladesh Post, “It is not possible to take examinations without completing the course. Most of the public university students are not familiar with online class nor do they have this opportunity. There is no alternative to formal education here.”

About the unfinished examinations at various departments, Rajshahi University VC Prof M Abdus Sobhan said “We cannot hold exams for the current academic session without a government decision. But we have taken steps to publish results of exams that are done.” 

UGC member Prof Dil Afroza Begum told Bangladesh Post, “We are thinking of finding an alternative way to conduct examinations. The UGC will sit with all the VCs to open discussions on reducing the session jam.”

According to UGC data, currently, more than 800,000 students are studying at 46 public universities.