SOME Vice-Chancellors and the Academic Staff Union of Universities have rejected the decision of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board to peg admission cut-off mark at 120 for universities and 100 for polytechnics, monotechnics and colleges of education.
ASUU said the action, which it described as a “sad policy decision,” was in tandem “with the dream of the present government to destroy public universities in the country.”
Most of the vice-chancellors our correspondents interviewed on the issue maintained that they would not lower admission standards in their respective varsities.
The vice-chancellors stated that the decision would add no value to the nation’s university system.
For instance, in a statement issued by the Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Prof. Idowu Olayinka, on the issue and released by his Media Assistant, Mr. Sunday Saanu, on Thursday, the premier university stated that it would never admit any candidate that scored 120 in the UTME.
The statement added, “It should worry us as patriots that candidates who scored just 30 per cent in the UTME can be admitted into some of our universities. Yet, we complain of poor quality of our graduates. You can hardly build something on nothing. The consolation here is that since JAMB started conducting this qualifying exam in 1978, UI has never admitted any candidate who scored less than 200 marks out of the maximum 400 marks.
“This translates to a minimum of 50 per cent. This remains our position as an institution aspiring to be world-class. Reality is that only about four other universities in the country have such high standard. To that extent, apart from being the oldest, we are an elite university in the country at least judging by the quality of our intakes.’’
Olayinka, however, commended the decision of the Federal Government to re-introduce the post-UTME test and exonerated the incumbent JAMB Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, from the cancellation of the test two sessions ago.
“It is gratifying to note that the Honourable Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who chaired the meeting, apologised publicly for canceling the post-UTME screening last year.
“In effect, universities are now allowed to conduct the test using modalities approved by the Senate of each institution.
“To be fair to the incumbent Registrar of JAMB, he was not the Registrar when the policy somersault of cancelling the post-UTME test was made last year. As strongly canvassed by us at every opportunity, for UI, the need to admit the best admission seekers is the primary motivation for the test and not money, even though we do not pretend that you can run any university so properly called without funds.”
Speaking to one of our correspondents on Thursday, the Vice-Chancellor, Tai Solarin University of Education, Ogun State, Prof. Oluyemisi Obilade, said that the onus would ultimately fall on parents and employers of labour to decide “between a first-class graduate of a university which takes 120 as its cut-off mark or one that takes 180 as its cut-off mark.’’
Obilade, who said that TASUED would never go below 180, insisted that many of the VCs at the Combined Policy Meeting during which the 120 benchmark decision was made, said they would not go below 180.
She said, “But some universities chose 120 at the meeting. What the JAMB has done is to transfer power back to the Senate of universities to decide their cut-off marks. What I can tell you is that many public universities and even private universities will not go below 200. We were told that some universities were doing what they called ‘under the table admission’ and then come back to JAMB after four years for regularisation.
“TASUED will not go below 180, not under my watch. Even in the United States, there is what we call Ivy League universities, and there are those you can call ‘Next Level Universities.’ There are also those that are termed community colleges. At the meeting, the outcome is that universities have been given the freedom to decide. It is not general legislation and it is not binding on everybody.’’
Speaking with journalists in Ibadan, the Chairman of ASUU at the University of Ibadan, Dr. Deji Omole, said it was the dream of the present government to destroy education in the country.
He said, “Rather than sanctioning the identified universities that admitted over 17,000 students illegally, the JAMB registrar simply regularised illegality and lowered cut-off marks to favour the interests of the friends of government who own private universities and are hell bent on destroying public education.”
Omole said it was vital for JAMB to be scrapped in order to save the nation’s education and its future. He said the board had outlived its usefulness and that prospective students should apply directly to universities of their choice for admission.
He said, “Where are the students that the JAMB registrar said entered universities illegally? Which universities admitted them? If 30 per cent did not take JAMB and found their way into the university system, is that not corruption and a message that JAMB is not significant anymore? What sanction did those who did the illegal thing receive other than regularisation of illegality.
“We are watching because long before now we have said that JAMB has outlived its usefulness. Let the universities set their unique standards and those who are qualified can come in. Scoring 120 out of 400 marks is 30 per cent. Even in those days, 40 per cent was graded as pass. But now JAMB said with F9 which is scoring 30 per cent you can be admitted.
“They deliberately want to destroy education. Even for polytechnic, 100 marks is 25 per cent. It is sad. And that is where we are in Nigeria. They want to destroy public education at all costs. This is not setting standard for education in Nigeria. It is purely lowering standards and digging grave for the future. This is why ASUU is currently on the struggle to influence the government to do the needful for education in Nigeria.”
Also, the Dean of Students Affairs, Federal University of Technology, Akure, Prof. Kayode Alese, who spoke on behalf of FUTA management, said that the institution would soon unveil its cut-off mark.
“However, I can assure you that FUTA has never gone as low as 120. It has never happened and it will never happen,” he said.
Alese added, “Having spoken for the university, my personal opinion is that the 120 cut-off mark will not add value to our education system. The Federal Government has just increased the pass mark from 40 to 45 in universities. What that means is that you must score at least 45 for you to pass any course. We have enough candidates and yes you may try to increase access but tertiary education should be for those who have the capability.’’
Also, the Vice-Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University, Prof. Tope Ogunmodede, said the institution would not admit any candidate with 120 UTME score.
He said, “Traditionally, OAU has never admitted students who scored below 200 in the UTME. For us, we are sticking to 200. The minimum benchmark is 120 but you can go higher than that. I expect that an institution should be able to determine the quality of its graduates because there are internal exams. What has been done is to provide a leeway for universities to decide their cut-off marks.”
Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigerian Students has described the reduction of the cut-off marks for admission into tertiary institutions as “a gross misplacement of priority and an exercise in futility.”
The organisation said that the reduction by JAMB, from 180 for universities and 165 polytechnics, to 120 and 100 respectively for the 2017 UTME, would translate to a disastrous outcome in the future.
The President of NANS, Chinonso Obasi, in a statement on Thursday, threatened that the decision would be resisted if JAMB refused to adhere to the status quo.
He said, “As critical stakeholders in the educational sector, NANS will vehemently resist the review and call on government to maintain the status quo and endeavour to conduct a comparative study and analysis of policies from other climes that support functional learning and production of young people that can compete with their peers globally.
“Even with the current status, the general phenomenon is that Nigerian graduates are not employable. The lowering of standards will translate to a disastrous outcome in the future by churning out young people who cannot fit into the demands and expectations of the 21st century.’’
According to him, since the 21st century is being driven by innovation and competitiveness, lowering the entry level into tertiary institutions would only further contribute to reducing the productivity and peak performance of young people seeking admission into the country’s higher institutions of learning.
However, the Vice-Chancellor of the Christopher University, Ogun State, Prof. Friday Ndubuisi, said the new admission benchmark would have no negative implication on the quality of education.
He said, “This is not an imposition. The cut-off mark is a minimum benchmark for admission. This idea of taking the UTME every year without getting admission is worrying. About 1.6 million candidates sat for the examination this year and about 500,000 will be admitted mostly because of the cut-off mark. Most universities will not go below 200, but with five credits obtained in two sittings, a person should be qualified for admission. This is, however, not an imposition. Universities still get to decide on whom to admit through the post-UTME.’’