Tuesday December 05, 2023

Varsities play game as government procrastinates

August 09, 2022

With the end of intermediate examinations across Punjab, while the practical portion of the exams still continues, public and private sector universities and higher education institutes (HEIs) are all set to announce admission schedules for BS programmes. Some in haste are even closer to wind up their admissions.

The admission season is never without worries for students and their parents. With no remedial action in the past and no hope for the future from those at the helm, the worries of the stakeholders sadly are ever multiplying. Of these, one is the absence of uniformity in the admission schedules and another is entrance test.

Take this real situation. A topnotch institute in the provincial metropolis, the Government College University (GCU) Lahore had announced its admission schedule for BS programmes in July and even after extending the last date to August 15 to apply, the GC University seems in haste to complete the process. Remember, the practical portion of Inter exams is still underway and results are not likely to be announced before mid-September. Most of the other universities, including Punjab University (PU) would open admissions in late August or early September. The ideal time for admissions is when all the nine examination boards announce intermediate results. But who cares?

One particular issue that has been perturbing the stakeholders for quite some time now is related to the admission test. Over the years, except some public universities and HEIs, particularly those offering specialised academic programmes, including medical, engineering, law and computer sciences etc, the majority of the institutes did not need an entrance test at all for admissions. But now even the private universities and HEIs, who mostly eye the wallet rather than the talent, have also made entrance tests mandatory. For them, this has turned out to be another window of opportunity to mint money. On top of it, there is no uniformity in the conduct of these admission tests. For example, GC University will be conducting its own test, like the last year, while the Punjab University will be accepting the Undergraduate Studies Admission Test (USAT) being conducted by the Higher Education Commission’s Education Testing Council (ETC) for admission to the university’s BS programmes. In the past, the PU did not require test at all except for a few programmes.

The universities being autonomous institutions are supposed to be autonomous in their decision making but when it comes to the students, the real stakeholders, there has to some checks to protect students’ rights and to facilitate them. This is where the role of the supervisory bodies such as HEC and Higher Education Department (HED) and office of the Chancellor comes in.

This is a general practice that most of the students apply at more than one university at a time with the hope to secure admission at any of the institutes. But this absence of uniformity vis-à-vis entrance test requirements has been adding to the problems of the students. A student applying for GC University and Punjab University will have to attempt two different entrance tests after paying separate fees for each. This financial burden on people and waste of time are manageable provided those at the helm realise their duties. This unbridled working of public and private universities and HEIs leading to a mess needs to be stopped.

The stakeholders suggest that the universities/HEIs should be directed by the HEC, HED or the Chancellor office to ensure uniformity in admission schedule and entrance tests to save time and money. Similarly, the students are also critical of the requirement of entrance tests by private sector universities and HEIs and urge those at the helm to play a regulatory role besides streamlining the entire admission process by a single body conducting the test like HEC’s ETC or no test at all.