Students vie for admission to Dhaka University after a pandemic year

Dhaka University has begun admission tests for the students who passed HSC and equivalent exams in 2020, after a yearlong suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The race to grab a place in one of the top public universities began at 11 am on Friday with students sitting for the test under Ka unit of the science faculty. The exam with 60 marks for multiple-choice questions and 40 marks for the written test ended at 12.30 pm.

The authorities have spread out the exam centres across eight university campuses in as many divisional cities to ease the trouble of travelling to Dhaka for the students in the pandemiç.

As many as 117,957 students are vying for the 1,815 seats under the Ka unit. That means, on average, 65 students are competing for a single seat in the category.

The DU campus came alive on Friday morning with the presence of examinees, as they had to reach the centre an hour earlier than the scheduled start of the test. Some were accompanied by their parents, who waited outside the entrance.

Many of the students were found revising lessons for the last time, sitting under the trees or on the sidewalks. A combination of nervousness and enthusiasm defined the atmosphere.

"We waited for a long time, and finally the day of the admission test has come. I have prepared well, but even then, it is normal to be a little nervous about the admission test. This exam will decide my fate in higher education,” said Farhan Shihab, who graduated in HSC from RAJUK Uttara Model College. 

They could not sit for the HSC exam in a traditional way under the changed scenario caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but had to study a lot to take part in the admission test, said Fahim Rahman, a former student of Mahbubur Rahman Molla College in Dhaka. 

"I came a bit early as the campus is a little far from home. I like the campus, but I’m feeling a bit nervous about the test," said Abdullah Tanim, a former student of Tamirul Millat Kamil Madrasa in Tongi. 

Some of the students came from other divisions to attend the exam in Dhaka, as they mentioned Dhaka as their preferred centre while filling out the admission form.

Meher Nigar Bithee, who studied at Cumilla's Juranpur Ideal University College, came to Dhaka with her father a day prior to the admission test just to be at the centre on time.

“I couldn't attend any coaching due to a surge in coronavirus cases, but prepared at home," she said.

"I tried my best to prepare her for the test. I hope her dream comes true," said Bithee's father Md Giasuddin.

The HSC and equivalent exams were scheduled to be held in April 2020 but were postponed several times with the onset of the pandemic. The exams could never be held albeit the pandemic ebbed to a certain extent. The authorities then published results for the students based on the average of their performance in JSC and SSC exams in January this year.  

The entrance exam to Dhaka University was originally scheduled to be held in October or November in 2020, which is now being held a year later.

The exam for Kha unit of the arts faculty will be held on Oct 2, Ga unit of business studies on Oct 22 and Gha unit of social science faculty and coordinated department change exam on Oct 23.

A total of 324,340 students applied for 7,148 seats under five units of Dhaka University this time.

Setting up the admission test centres across the divisional cities in the changed circumstances has been quite a challenge for them, said Dr Mihir Lal Saha, dean of the Faculty of Biological Sciences.

 “We have prepared accordingly. Our teachers reached the centres with the question papers yesterday. Universities in the divisional cities have cooperated with us a lot,” he said.

The university has a ‘zero tolerance' policy against any forgery in the admission test, said DU Vice Chancellor Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman.

“No scope for cheating exists in the admission test.”