We are concerned about the prospect of an acute housing crisis facing admissions applicants to Rajshahi University (UK). Each year, during the RU admission tests, students from different parts of the country find refuge in the halls of the university. These dormitories typically house around 50 percent of admissions seekers, especially those from poor families or from faraway countries. This year, however, admissions applicants are already facing difficulties in finding accommodation as university authorities have decided to close rooms on their campus due to the pandemic.
In addition to accommodating students in rooms, university authorities generally allow admissions applicants to stay in auditoriums, mosques, dining halls, and sometimes other open spaces, including hall verandas. Students also stay at Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology, Rajshahi Medical College and other educational institutions, all of which are closed this time around. As a result, private dormitories are already almost fully occupied, as are hotel residences in the city. Students also alleged that some hotels were taking advantage of the crisis and charging exorbitant fees for rooms.
While the current crisis is largely a product of the pandemic, we believe it is actually part of a bigger problem. The fact that students had to travel long distances just to sit for each university’s separate admissions exam has had a huge impact on students and their tutors over the years, in terms of time, energy. and financial costs. University authorities should have taken steps to reduce this stress on admissions applicants. The UGC, it will be recalled, had proposed that universities follow a system of cluster admission tests – with which the authorities in the UK, as well as other large public university authorities, were not in favor. okay – which could have alleviated the suffering of the students. Apart from this, the UK authorities could have arranged alternative examination locations so that students did not have to travel far to take their entrance examination; for example, Dhaka University made for its Rajshahi admissions seekers.
The fact that the UR authorities were caught off guard by the situation is evidence of the current state of mismanagement and planning on the part of public university administrations. The UR authorities should have anticipated these problems and formulated strategies that would have allowed the students to pass their exams without having so much trouble. Having to worry about accommodation and other related health and safety issues in the midst of a pandemic is not something students should have gone through. Therefore, even though the admissions exams are only a few days away, we call on the UK authorities to urgently find alternatives that can alleviate the suffering of admissions applicants.