Integrating admission mechanism
Unifying admission test at tertiary level has become indispensable for Bangladesh. Back in eighties, when only four public universities prevailed and no private universities mushroomed and separate admission mechanism was somewhat reasonable.
Now, in 2018, when almost forty public universities along with ninety five private universities situated at twenty different cities which are catering higher education to the nation. Separate admission tests for each university imposes heavy freight to the admission seeking candidates. Under such profound quest for higher education, introducing combined admission system must be introduced.
Ten thousands of optimistic students, accompanied by their enthusiastic guardians have to move from one corner of the country to another to appear in the admission tests. Such incessant traveling throw the aspiring candidates into troubled water. As a result, they have to embrace financial burden, dearth of transportation, unsecured accommodation, intense exhaustion and acute anxiety. It may sound tragic-- many promising candidates refrain from applying to the universities, because they cannot afford exorbitant fees and other costs associated to attending those tests. Under these circumstances, university authorities must consider collective well-being, rather than their thirst for monetary gain from admission process.
However, the solution to this 'admission conundrum' is fairly straightforward. But, what makes this solution nonexistent is the apathy of different prominent universities to integrate undergraduate admission process. Integrating the admission mechanism of thousands of students might be cumbersome but not impossible. Resisting uniform system in pretense of complexity is not acceptable.
It is noted that the salient features of questions of similar type of institutes or department resonate with same rhythm. For example, the questions of science and technology universities fundamentally evaluate the mathematical prowess achieved from Physics, Chemistry or Higher Mathematics. All the agricultural universities also maintain a homogeneous pattern, assessing subject knowledge conceptually. Similarly, the Faculty of Arts or Social Science prioritizes Bangla, English and General Knowledge. Lastly, Faculty of Business Administration appraises business acumen, analytical capacity and linguistic proficiency.
First of all, the central authority consisting of representatives from different universities should divide all the science universities, agricultural universities, faculties of science, faculties of arts and social science and faculties of business administration into distinct clusters. Then assimilated admission process will be initiated for each cluster. The central authority will coordinate the functions and responsibilities of universities.
As a result, an admission seeker will sit for a single exam for each cluster combining relevant subjects of all universities, rather than appearing for different exam for each university. There can be regional examination centers so that the sufferings of students decrease. Once all the exams are conducted, central merit list will be published and students will be admitted as per their performance on the unified admission test and preference of subject and university. When the system will be implemented, the students will be highly benefitted.
Maintaining the process of more than two hundred thousands students is a herculean task. Without rigorous homework, the process may turn out to be a colossal catastrophe, jeopardizing the future of promising students. Likelihood of question paper leakage may skyrocket. Effectively assigning preferable subjects and universities among diverse choices can seem strenuous. Besides, mismanagement, irregularities, technical error or coordination failure can propel the entire process to a debacle.
For instance, recently Bankers' Selection Committee (BSC) initiated combined recruitment procedure for greater benefit of thousands of jobseekers. For only 1663 posts of senior officer in eight state-owned banks, more than two hundred thousand candidates sat for the examination, held at 61 exam centers around Dhaka city. Unfortunately, the recruitment test was tarnished with the allegations of no seat plans, scarcity of seats and use of electronic devices by examinees and question leakage in the 100 marks MCQ test. The process was so blemished that a thunder of protest evoked, the perturbed candidates took to the street and ultimately BSC scrapped the entire recruitment process. In truths, such a fiasco took place because of the poor management and inadequate preparation.
This unwarranted incident reminds the harsh consequences of premature management that does more harm than good. The admission authority must learn from anomalous and controversial bank recruitment process. When integrated system will be introduced, there is a possibility of unintended consequences in handling such massive number of candidates. Sincerely, scrutinizing possible challenges must be of paramount importance. Only when carefully maneuvered, consolidated admission test will definitely preserve the greater welfare of students.
The writer is studying at Department of Economics, University of Dhaka