Be it either unified admission test or cluster entry test, students of Dhaka University (DU), the highest echelon of education in the country, are against any change in the existing system with academicians doubtful about effectiveness of any new system for lack of a proper authority.
The DU students rather suggested making the existing method more effective to ensure the selection of candidates in a fair and appropriate manner.
On January 23, the University Grants Commission (UGC) decided to introduce a uniform entry test in all public universities across the country from the academic year 2020-21, aiming to reduce the plight of the admission-seekers and their guardians.
In the face of opposition by a number of universities to the integrated admission test, it proposed a cluster admission test system on Wednesday where all the existing public universities will be divided into four clusters for admission tests.
The proposed changes in entry tests for tertiary education have made impacts on the student community all over Bangladesh. However, the stance of DU students remains the same: they are against any change to the existing system.
Akterujjaman Raju, a student of DU English department, said there is no apparent need for a uniform or cluster admission test. “I don’t think there’s a need for a uniform or cluster admission test. The approach that has been in place since last year (introduction of written exam) is appropriate. However, more importance should be given to viva voce when it comes to the subject selection,” he said.
Another student, Marziya Alam, highlighted that any entry test out of the purview of DU jurisdiction will only facilitate question paper leakage and other forms of corruption in the examination process.
“The DU administration had to face the thorny problem of question paper leak until recently. Now, if the cluster or uniform test takes place at regional exam centres outside Dhaka, the problem will certainly stage a comeback given the current competition,” she said.
Marziya, a student of Tourism and Hospitality Management department, said although the current admission test procedure of DU is not without any flaw, it is, however, better than the proposed changes.
Sabbir, a student of Mass Communication and Journalism department, echoed Marziya, saying it might compromise with the standard of question patterns in the DU admission apart from giving rise to corruption.
“There’s no guarantee that question sets for cluster admission will meet the standard of DU. Also, it’ll set a populist ranking among public universities without any technical assessment,” he told UNB.
The DU student urged authorities of public universities to sit in talks and find a solution to the hassle of admission-seekers across the country.
Sushmita, another DU student, said the proposed changes in the admission test process can harm the future of students.
“Bad day can take over anyone and any student might have a terrible exam. The proposed systems won’t allow them any more chance to get enrolled which is really disheartening to me. They at least have alternatives in the existing admission test system,” she told UNB.
Megwati Sarker, a student of Sociology department, proposed introduction of a complete written exam format instead of current hybridised multiple choice and written method.
“The cluster admission test system might eliminate personal choice of any university for admission. Many will lose the chance to get admitted to DU in the process. I think the administration should opt for a complete written exam format to pick eligible candidates,” she said.
Another student, Sumya Arefin, highlighted that there should be proper planning before hastily introducing any new admission test system. “It might backfire forcing the admission-seekers to pay the price,” she said.
Talking to UNB, DU Professor Emeritus Dr Serajul Islam Choudhury mentioned that there are certain reasons that put the proper implementation of the new admission test procedure in doubt.
“Be it uniform or cluster system, they might not be effective because there’s no proper authority to handle it. We hold public examinations under separate boards. It’s not possible for a single authority to assess such a large number of students with one or four exams simultaneously across the country,” he said.
"There was a proposition of holding a uniform test on the basis of rotation, but this can’t be done either because the number of students sitting for admission tests is too large for a single university to handle. Many universities simply don’t have the logistic facilities to do it,” Dr Serajul Islam said.
He also highlighted the difference in the selection procedures of individual public universities. “Each university has its own admission procedure; their verification process is also different,” he said.
The eminent academician suggested few changes to the admission process to ease the hassle of students and their parents.
“Although the current university admission test procedure is expensive for students, it can be synchronised so that everyone can sit in the entrance exams of universities of their choices. Another solution could be eliminating the admission test method altogether. Instead, the education authority must enhance the quality of public exams (SSC, HSC) so that universities can enroll students based on the results obtained from there,” he told UNB.
He ultimately encouraged drastic changes to ensure quality of overall education.
“Things we need to do are to increase the number of public universities as well as quality of teaching at every level. I don’t think there’s a need to implement a new admission test system for higher education in a hurry,” he told UNB.