Cluster varsity entry test decision remains on paper for nine years

Md Solamain Salman

18th April, 2019 11:08:27 printer

Cluster varsity entry test decision remains on paper for nine years

The government is yet to introduce a ‘cluster’ entrance test for admission of students to honours courses in public universities despite repeated directives from the authorities concerned.

Like the previous years, students may face a strenuous admission battle this year too.

In 2010, the education ministry decided in principle to introduce a new admission procedure for the country’s public universities to cut down the exam-holding costs, reduce burden on students and check the influence of coaching centres.

Sources in the University Grants Commission (UGC) said the launch of the cluster system admission test is delayed due to opposition from a few reputed universities.

The universities have been opposing the cluster system as its implementation would affect the income of the universities and teachers from the sale of admission forms, invigilation and checking answer scripts.

Under the proposed cluster system, admission seekers will be enrolled at the universities based on the merit list prepared from a single test.

Students will need to take one test for a place in any of the general universities, another test for science and technology universities and one more test for a place in any of the agriculture universities.

The new system will save admission seekers’ time and money and relieve them of travel required to sit for separate admission tests in public universities across the country.

At present, only the medical colleges have a uniform entrance test.

As many as 13,51,505 examinees -- 6,87,009 female and 6,64,496 male -- registered for the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and its equivalent exams this year.

The written tests began on April 1 and it will end on May 5. The practical examinations will begin on May 12 which will conclude on May 21.   

After the HSC and equivalent exams, every year, admission seekers face a huge amount of pressure as they prepare for separate tests for separate universities.

The candidates have to buy many admission forms from different universities and spend a lot of money and time on travel and accommodation.

Sometimes students face problem when dates of admission tests of different universities coincide.

Fatema Aktar, a HSC candidate from Comilla Women’s college said, “My family is worried about my varsity admission as taking admission tests in different public universities travelling across the country is difficult while it will also create an extra burden for my family.”

 “We want public university admission test like the one for medical colleges to reduce our sufferings,” she added.

Talking to daily sun, UGC Chairman Prof Abdul Mannan said: “We are yet to introduce the cluster system admission test at the public universities due to opposition from some major universities.”

He thinks that one of the reasons might be the authorities of those universities feel they would be deprived of the financial benefits coming from the existing system.

President Md Abdul Hamid on several occasions asked the VCs of all public universities to introduce a unified admission system to reduce hassles of admission seekers and their guardians.

President, also the Chancellor of all universities, in February last year held a meeting with VCs of all public universities and asked them to introduce a unified admission test.

Earlier in November 2017, he also gave the directive to introduce the admission system, but his call seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

The UGC in its annual report 2016 said the current admission system is questionable and expensive. It recommended reforms to the system.

The report suggested that primarily public universities could replicate the medical admission test system and it would lessen the harassment of students and their spending.

Earlier, the government formed two committees to expedite the process but they are yet to make any final decision to hold uniform test even after holding a number of meetings last year.

UGC officials said there is no progress to introduce the cluster system admission test though the universities will start admission process after the end of the ongoing HSC exam.

However, the UGC Chairman Prof Abdul Mannan said the agriculture universities agreed to introduce cluster system admission test from this year after a meeting held recently at the commission.

 “I am hopeful that the agriculture universities would introduce the new system from this year,” he added.

There are 49 public universities across the country where eight are agriculture universities.

Earlier, the agriculture universities had also agreed but finally on July 9 last year after a meeting at UGC they backtracked, arguing that they have not enough time to introduce it this year.

Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni said she was in favour of introducing a uniform admission test to public universities.

 “I know that some universities, especially the major ones, oppose the plan for various reasons. But the uniform entrance test is very important for students and guardians,” said the minister.

 “If we can hold medical admission tests through unified system, why won’t it be for public universities?”

 “I believe that we can do it if we all have a good will. I hope the universities will co-operate with us in this matter,” she added