‘Online varsity entry test to be a jeopardy’

Holding university tests online will create many problems as there is a lack of internet service, smartphones, computers, laptops and other modern gadgets among the students of the country, experts opine.

“Proper evaluation of the students won’t be held in this process.Moreover, many talented students may be deprived as such tests have little transparency,” they said.

Former students and experts have raised question over the transparency of sensitive issues like conducting admission test through online.They also raised question how the students of poor and low-income families in rural and remote areas will take part in the test.

Recently, Vice Chancellors (VCs) of public universities have taken an initial decisionto conduct admission test through online. They made the decision at a meeting of Association of Universities of Bangladesh (AUB) on Saturday evening. 

This year, about 13.65 lakh students passed the HSC and equivalent examinations.

Talking to a several students, it is known that most of the poor and low-income families do not have smartphones, computers or laptops. They also have less knowledge of using technology. Many SSC and HSC level students are not very tech-friendly. 

Abdullah Faysal, former student of University of Chittagong, said, “I do not think this is the right decision in the context of Bangladesh. I still do not understand how it will be possible to take admission test through online? Besides, there is a huge opportunity of unfair means in such examinations.”

According to the meeting of Association of Universities of Bangladesh (AUB), most of the Vice-Chancellors have given their opinion in favour of taking online exams instead of taking physical exams considering the Covid-19 situation.

At the meeting, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Digital University (BDU) Vice-Chancellor Prof Munaj Ahmed Noor proposed to use a mobile based software in the admission test, which was developed under his supervision.

About the proposal, Vice-Chancellor of National University Prof DrHarun-ur-Rashid, said, “In the meeting, everyone has appreciated this proposal. We hope that it will be possible to conduct this year’s admission test by using the software. The final decision will be taken in consultation with the government and UGC.”

In the context of its use, Professor Munaj Ahmed Noor said, “The software is a mobile based app. It will work both offline and online. When the students open the app, we will take control of the camera of his mobile and also the control of the sound. Then, the candidate will not be able to turn on any more apps on the phone until this app is on.”

“We will be able to monitor students live when they turn on the app online,” he said, adding, “And if you are offline, pictures and sound will be recorded. It will be moved to our server later. Then we will know if whether he has copied. These apps can be used in both MCQ and written examinations,” he added.

However, Mahbub Hasan, a former student of University of Dhaka, expressed his discontentment over the decision of taking such online examinations.

He said, “Poor people in the village do not have the opportunity to use apps or smartphones.How can they think of taking the test in this way?”

He also raised question about the transparency of this type of exams.

In this regard, UGC Member Prof DrMuhammedAlamgir told Bangladesh Post, “At first, we have to see whether we have the capability to conduct such a large admission test through online. If public universities have the capability, why they don’t take academic examinations in such way?”

“Students, especially from poor families and rural areas, will be deprived, if the tests are conducted online. So, we have to think again as the decision can be proved as dangerous one,” he added. 

DrAlamgir further said, “All public universities agreed to take admission tests under the cluster system except five universities. I think, if Dhaka University and BUET agree, it will be possible to take cluster system admission.”

About sitting arrangement, he said, “If physical exams are conduct amid covid-19 the candidates must sit maintaining social distancing. In a room where 40 candidates used to sit 10 students can sit there. But everyone (VCs) must be agree on this.”

About online admission test, UGC Member Professor Dr Abu Taher told Bangladesh Post, “It is an initial decision of VCs. We will sit with them again to discuss about the matter. UGC Chairman will take a coordinated decision after discussing with the members of UGC and VCs of the universities.”

However, Prof Taher was reluctant to give his personal opinion, saying, “The final decision will be taken by the education ministry.”

On the other hand, netizenscriticised the decision of taking university entry tests online and expressed their dissatisfaction in the social media.