Universities are the highest places for learning where students study for undergraduate and postgraduate courses; and where academic research is done. There are 39 public universities in Bangladesh, which enroll around 65,000 undergraduate students every year through admission tests.
In 2019, some 9.88 lakh students passed the HSC and its equivalent examinations under the 10 education boards. But, in 2020, due to auto pass system, all of the 13, 67,377 candidates passed the HSC and other equivalent examinations. Very surprisingly, a total of 1,61,807 students achieved GPA 5.00. The GPA 5.00 rate rose to 11.83 percent last year from 3.54 percent in the previous year.
The huge number of GPA 5.00 achievers and the high pass percentage means that more students will sit for the university admission tests this year. It is unfortunate that the universities authorities charge irrational application fees for per unit varying from Tk 600 to Tk 1224. In this estimate, if a candidate wants to apply in Rajshahi University in two faculties/units, he/she must pay Tk 2448 for submitting online application only. Then, everyone can predict how much an admission seeker needs to pay for applying in more than one university for several units.
It must be mentioned that the most of the State-run universities in Asia/South Asia including India take no application fees from the candidates; those universities only take at the time of final enrollment after finally selection for admission. Very unfortunately, the Bangladeshi state universities are exceptions where high rated application fees are imposed on the candidates before they are selected for admission.
The information below shows the picture of excessive application fees that the Bangladeshi Universities are collecting from the admission seekers for the undergraduate courses: Dhaka University- application fee-Tk 650 (per unit); Rajshahi University- Tk 1155 (per unit); GTS cluster universities-Tk 1224 (Per unit); Jahangirnagar University- Tk 600(Per unit/faculty); Agriculture cluster universities- Tk 1000(per unit); Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP)- Tk 600 (Per unit/faculty); BSMR Maritime University-Tk 700(Per unit/faculty); Chittagong University- Tk 650 (Per unit/faculty); BUET Tk 1000/1200 per unit.
Thus, an admission seeker needs to spend Tk 5000-25,000 to apply to different universities for some units/ faculties. In this case, meritorious but financially insolvent students become unable to apply to university for financial inability and hence, fail to chase their dream at the very beginning of their academic career. This is not a denying fact that the university authorities irrationally earn huge amount of money from the applicants, the most part of which are disbursed among the teachers, which is undoubtedly quite a big amount.
An example is to mention here, we came to know from an interview that Jahangirnagar University earned around Tk 20 crore from the sale of 3.60 lakh admission forms in 2019 admission test. The VC said 40 percent of the money was spent on the university's development activities, and the rest (12 crore) on conducting the test and teachers' remuneration. A university is not a place for doing business-like activities or making profit for institutional and community gain. Everyone should hold ethical responsibility for others.
Only the selected candidates should pay admission fee and other charges at the time of final enrollment. We do not understand why admission seekers (not yet their students) are compelled to pay an amount for university development activities; why they will pay teachers high remuneration? In cases, the universities may only charge the approximate amount which may be needed for conducting admission tests and procedures.
Why the admission seekers are compelled to pay additional amount which is not al all related to them. The candidates and their parents are victims of circumstance, and unable to raise voices against anybody. It is observed that not only the public universities, but also the authorities of the government medical colleges charged the application fee Tk. 1000 for an hour admission test. Similarly, the Armed Forces Medical College authority charged Tk. 1000 as the application fee for the admission in their medical colleges. But, what was the logic for imposing so higher application fee.
Fairness and the integrity are the best and safest ways in our life. If the students face this type of unfairness in the beginning of their life they will morally collapse like a building made with bad materials. Every year, thousands of students come to join the universities with a dream to create a future of their own, community and the country.
The problem is that there are some students who are meritorious and needy. If the universities will not take admission in a fresh way then their dream to take higher education will remain a day dream. The honesty of the university authority will save the future of many students. The students will get the opportunity to get higher education. They have no right to financially harass the students in the name of application fees. They should make a fair and bright way to choose the students for admission.
The government is sincerely requested to look into the matter seriously whether the public universities in Asian/South Asian countries charge any application fee on the aspiring candidates; the government should take the matter positively, and give adequate attention for the public interests. The government needs to prepare a guideline to charge reasonable application fees if needed based on the practical grounds and needs so that no university entity can impose charges whatever amount they like for their own gain. This can prove extremely helpful to students in the abatement of their expenses. As there is saying- "A penny saved is a penny earned".
Dr Md Enamul Hoque is
and teacher educator