SAN FRANCISCO, June 09, (THEWILL) – Gaining Admission into Nigerian Universities has been a herculean task for students since the introduction of the Post-Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations, UTME, as a prerequisite for gaining admission.
In announcing the scrapping, Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu said there was no need for universities to conduct another examination for candidates after they had passed the examination conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board, JAMB.
It is instructive to note that universities in the course of running the post-UTME have attracted a groundswell of criticisms, ranging from extortion, exorbitant charges, bribery and poor invigilation to manipulation of results. Besides, varsities have been accused of running fowl of fundamental provisions that necessitated the post-JAMB testing in the first instance.
For instance, most universities had also reneged on the stipulated quota system of admitting students. The result has been that several students who beat the cutoff marks are unable to gain admission. The inability of universities to offer admission to the army of qualified candidates often necessitated that candidates sit for the qualifying examinations, as an annual ritual for as many as six times, paying the examination fee each time.
In the original provision, certain percentages were allocated to federal and state universities. For federal universities, admission on merit was pegged at 45 per cent, with catchment area attracting 35 per cent, while educationally less-developed states attracts 20 per cent. For the states, merit takes 40 per cent, catchment areas 40 per cent and the less developed local governments, 20 per cent.
But over the years, these have since been thrown overboard, as the entire process has been turned into annual bazaar, where in some institutions, only the highest bidders are given provisional admission.
Former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, NUC, Prof. Peter Okebukola, consented that universities had along the line deviated from the initial agreement, which NUC had with Vice-Chancellors in 2004.
While supporting the scrapping, he however opined that universities could still subject candidates to screening in order to meet their local peculiarities. Okebukola justified that outside the use of merit, there were other characteristics; the first being to ensure that admission seekers attain minimum cognitive competence in subjects relevant to the disciplines they wish to study.
He identified this competence to include written and oral English Language, critical thinking and ability to present ideas in logical sequence. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with this.
THEWILL is however worried that if Okebulola’s theory is to be allowed, universities could still hide under the old guise to continue ripping off candidates. Nothing would have changed if after a candidate had scored the stipulated cut-off mark, candidates would still be denied admission because they could not meet the special aptitude test being canvassed by some individuals on behalf of these varsities.
There is therefore the need to ensure that universities are not given any laxity to introduce hidden charges through the special aptitude tests among others that may follow. These drawbacks have made university admissions very stressful over the years, compared to what obtains in some other countries in Africa and the sub-region, where all that is required is five credits passes in the West African School Certificate examination.
Though we are not entirely opposed to institutions screening or further vetting the capacity of prospective students, we however want this process to be less rigorous for applicants.
THEWILL commends the Federal Government for scrapping, the practice of which had continued, despite years of complaints by applicants and parents. This is not strange, apparently because some interests were benefiting massively from the system at the pains of students and parents.
We however want government to take further steps by ensuring that universities are monitored to ensure that there is fairness and equity in the admission process.
We also commend JAMB, which has improved over the years, from the manual conduct of the examinations to the current computer-based testing. However, we demand that it uses this opportunity to improve on its performance.
The last examination was poorly organised, leading to protests by candidates from across the nation. Among the challenges it must urgently address are, the alleged uncontrolled logging out of candidates, arbitrary decision on choice of venue and timing, without due consideration to the candidates’ states of origin and areas of habitation.