JAMB: Promoting Or Destroying Academic Excellence?  

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The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) recently released the new cut-off marks for admissions into higher institutions of learning in the country for the 2017/2018 academic session. At a policy meeting held with heads of institutions and other education regulatory bodies in Abuja, the examination body approved 120 as the minimum mark for degree-awarding institutions while the minimum cut-off marks for admissions into polytechnics and colleges of education were pegged at 100, with innovative enterprising institutes coming at 110. JAMB however directed that institutions are at liberty to raise their cut-off marks for admission above the set minimum. The meeting which held at the National Judicial Institute, Abuja, had in attendance vice chancellors, rectors, provosts and registrars of tertiary institutions. Following widespread public condemnation and rejection of that decision, JAMB defended its position by blaming poor admission policies as having frustrated and deprived candidates’ admission into higher institutions in the past, forcing thousands to look for admissions abroad. JAMB spokesman, Dr. Fabian Benjamin, disclosed in a statement that the board would ensure that higher institutions adhere strictly to guidelines including cut-off marks to ensure candidates were not denied admissions. He said, “It’s also a known fact that for you to study a course say Hausa in Nigerian universities, you will need a credit in mathematics, however when you go outside like in London, all you will need is a credit in Hausa and English, no mathematics. Such and so many other poorly thought-out policies have pushed our frustrated candidates out of Nigeria to developed and neighbouring African nations for education they could not get at home.” Dr. Benjamin further explained that the 120 minimum cut-off mark for university admission does not in any way suggest that once a candidate has 120, he would get admission. “Institutions will admit from the top to the least mark,” he added. He also revealed that cut-off marks were never strictly followed by most institutions as they went behind to admit candidates with far less score while others admitted candidates who never sat for JAMB examination. VCs, ASUU Reject 120 Cut-Off Mark Vice-Chancellors and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have rejected the decision of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board. The leadership of ASUU in a statement; described the development as a “sad policy decision,” adding that it was in tandem “with the dream of the present government to destroy public universities in the country.” The vice-chancellors were of the opinion that the decision would add no value to the nation’s university system and assured that they would not lower admission standards in their respective varsities. According to The Punch, the Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan (UI), Prof. Idowu Olayinka, had in a statement released by his Media Assistant, Mr. Sunday Saanu, disclosed that the university 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 which 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.’’ Reacting to the development, ViceChancellor, 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.

‘Under the table admission’ It was gathered that some universities chose the 120 cut-off mark at the meeting. But Professor Obilade added that what JAMB has done is to transfer power back to the Senate of universities to decide their cut-off marks. Her words: “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 regularization admission to prospective students, hence the need for the examination body to be disbanded immediately. His words: “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 polytechnics, 100 cut-off mark is 25 per cent. It is sad. And that is where we are in Nigeria. They want to destroy 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.’’ Reacting to the development, ViceChancellor, 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.

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.” On her own part, the former Education Minister, Prof. Nora Obaji, described the cut off marks as unacceptable and appalling. She said,” It is not encouraging. “I mean, what are we really looking out for in this country, quality or quantity? If we, as a nation, are striving to improve on our developmental strides and be relevant among comity of nations, one thing we must learn to take seriously, should be our quality of education at all levels; and for the country to move forward, it must insist on quality of students and graduates and be sure of their capabilities.” According to Obaji, “there is nowhere in the world that 25 per cent is being considered as pass mark, going by the recent requisite minimum qualification mark for Polytechnics and Colleges of Education by JAMB.” Another stakeholder, Prof. Chiedu Mafiana, a lecturer with the National 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.’’ Is the Federal Government teleguiding JAMB? The Chairman of ASUU, at the University of Ibadan, Dr. Deji Omole, says it is the dream of the present government to destroy education in the country. According to him, “rather than sanction the identified universities Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), told NAN on telephone that the cut-off marks were ridiculous and would do the system no good. “I was not in that meeting and may not have all the facts on how they arrived at such grades. Yes, it is true that the responsibility of admitting students rests solely with the universities and what I find not quite right is setting cut-off marks for universities by JAMB. I think it ought to be right if these institutions were given the opportunity to set what they deem fit as their cut-off marks. “All JAMB would have concerned itself with should be to just announce results of the test it conducted,” he said. Meanwhile, the President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Chinonso Obasi has condemned the cut-off marks reduction by JAMB and stakeholders. In a statement, Obasi said that lowering the entry level into tertiary institutions 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. He vowed that as critical stakeholders in the education sector, the student body would vehemently resist the review. Obasi then urged government to maintain the status quo and endeavour to conduct a comparative study and analysis of policies from other climes that support functional learning. But JAMB Is Adamant The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, has said that contrary to insinuations, it was a collective decision of stakeholders in the education sector to fix the tertiary institutions minimum admission cutoff marks. Speaking to newsmen recently, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, insisted that stakeholders in the education sector unanimously agreed on the new minimum cutoff marks. He however, allayed fears being nursed by some Nigerians that the development might further lower Nigeria’s educational standard. He said: “What JAMB did was a recommendation, we only determined the minimum, and whatever the various institutions determine as admission cutoff mark is their decision. The Senate and academic boards of universities should be allowed to determine their cut-off marks.”

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john wick December 10, 2020 - 3:52 pm

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