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HEC’s move to hold BS entrance test worries students

By Khalid Khattak
August 16, 2021

LAHORE : An abrupt announcement by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) on Sunday to conduct Undergraduate Studies Admission Test (USAT) for admission at undergraduate level in universities across Pakistan has caused concern among students.

The HEC advertisement did not clarify whether the USAT would be mandatory or not which added to the confusion of the students as it came at a time when a number of universities have already opened undergraduate level admissions and announced their own entry test schedule. Similarly, many universities have not planned any sort of entrance test at all for their general BS degree programmes.

Besides advertisements, the HEC used its social media channels to make the announcement public which did not receive positive response from students as most of them in their harsh comments termed USAT another ‘money-making’ move.

“The Higher Education Commission viz Education Testing Council (ETC) will conduct Undergraduate Studies Admission Test (USAT) for admission at the undergraduate level in universities operating all over Pakistan,” reads the HEC advertisement. August 30, 2021 was announced as the last date for online registration while September 12, 2021 was set as a tentative date to conduct the entry test.

Talking to The News, a number of officials from different universities also came hard on the HEC saying no consultation was done with the universities in this regard. “No consultation whatsoever. We are already planning such tests for our admissions,” said a high official of a public university in Lahore when asked whether the HEC consulted the university for USAT or not. He said that since the advertisement came from the higher education regulator there was a perception, especially among the students, that this would be mandatory.

Tahir Munir, one of the applicants for GCU BS programme, said the HEC’s announcement literally panicked him. “I am already preparing for the GCU’s own pre-admission entry but I am confused whether I would sit for USAT too,” he said and adding the ETC would separately charge Rs 1,200 for its test.

When contacted ETC chief executive officer Dr Iftikhar said that Undergraduate Studies Admission Test (USAT) was not mandatory. He said the ETC launched its product (entry test) in the market to compete on quality basis and it was up to universities whether they wanted to adopt this test or not.

To a question Dr Iftikhar said owing to paucity of space in advertisement it could not be made clear that the USAT was not mandatory.