How Pri­vate Uni­ver­si­ties Forced JAMB to Lower Cut-off Mark

Inad­e­quate teach­ing fac­ul­ties, ameni­ties com­pel stu­dents to shun pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions UNN, Uni­lag, UI, OAU, Uniben re­tain 200 as min­i­mum en­try score Unilorin is school of first choice among stu­dents, LASU leads among state var­si­ties, Covenant, pri­vate sch

THISDAY - - FRONT PAGE - Obinna Chima in La­gos and Se­na­tor Iroegbu in Abuja

Abysmally low stu­dent en­rol­ment into pri­vate uni­ver­si­ties in the coun­try has been iden­ti­fied as the ma­jor rea­son the Joint Ad­mis­sions and Ma­tric­u­la­tion Board (JAMB) re­cently low­ered the min­i­mum cut-off mark for Nige­rian uni­ver­si­ties in the 2017/2018 aca­demic ses­sion to 120.

Ac­cord­ing to data re­leased to THISDAY by the spokesper­son

of JAMB, Dr. Fabian Ben­jamin, most pri­vate uni­ver­si­ties al­ready had their min­i­mum cut-off marks set at 120, even be­fore the de­ci­sion by the board and other stake­hold­ers in­volved in ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion (in­clud­ing pri­vate and pub­lic poly­tech­nics and col­leges of ed­u­ca­tion) na­tion­wide.

JAMB re­leased the data fol­low­ing the out­cry by sev­eral Nige­ri­ans and the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­rian Stu­dents (NANS) that it was low­er­ing stan­dards in the ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor by set­ting 120 as the min­i­mum en­try mark for ad­mis­sion into schools of higher learn­ing, which rep­re­sents 30 per cent of the to­tal score of 400.

A re­view of the in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by JAMB showed that of the 293 ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions in the coun­try, only five uni­ver­si­ties – Univer­sity of Nige­ria Nsukka (UNN), Univer­sity of Ibadan (UI), Obafemi Awolowo Univer­sity (OAU), Ile-Ife, Univer­sity of La­gos (Uni­lag) and Univer­sity of Benin (Uniben) – pegged their min­i­mum cut-off marks at 200 (50 per cent out of a to­tal score of 400), while only the La­gos State Univer­sity (LASU), Ojo, among the en­tire ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions set 190 (47.5 per cent) as it cut-off mark.

Also, the data showed that 27 other uni­ver­si­ties – pri­vate and pub­lic – pegged their min­i­mum cut-off marks at 180 (45 per cent); 22 pri­vate uni­ver­si­ties fixed their min­i­mum en­try marks at 120, while one has 110 (27.5 per cent) as its cut-off mark.

For in­stance, most pri­vate uni­ver­si­ties which in­cluded Achiev­ers Univer­sity, Owo, Ondo State; Adeleke Univer­sity, Ede, Osun State; Caled Univer­sity, Enugu; Car­i­tas Univer­sity, Enugu; Foun­tain Univer­sity, Oshogbo; Novena Univer­sity, Delta State; Re­nais­sance Univer­sity, Enugu; and South-west­ern Univer­sity, Ogun State, al­ready had 120 as their cut-off mark, re­spec­tively.

Oth­ers with the same cut-off mark are the Sa­muel Adeg­boyega Univer­sity; Well­spring Univer­sity, Edo State; Sum­mit Univer­sity, Kwara; Ed­win Clark Univer­sity, Delta State; Kings Univer­sity, Osun State; Arthur Jarvis Univer­sity, Cross River State; Clif­ford Univer­sity, Abia State; and Coal City Univer­sity, Enugu.

In­ter­est­ingly, in or­der to at­tract stu­dents, one of the pri­vate uni­ver­si­ties –Tan­sian Univer­sity – even low­ered its min­i­mum score to 110 – be­low what was fixed by JAMB.

The rea­son the pri­vate uni­ver­si­ties se­lected such low cut-off marks, ac­cord­ing to Ben­jamin, was to in­crease stu­dent en­rol­ment in their schools.

“Most stu­dents pre­fer to ap­ply to pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties and that is why they have issues with en­rol­ment.

“One hun­dred and twenty is not the min­i­mum cut-off mark across board. But it is the one de­ter­mined by cer­tain uni­ver­si­ties. A lot of the in­sti­tu­tions that took 120 as their cut-off mark are pri­vate uni­ver­si­ties,” Ben­jamin ex­plained.

How­ever, a source in the Na­tional Uni­ver­si­ties Com­mis­sion (NUC) fur­ther dis­closed that the rea­son a lot of pri­vate uni­ver­si­ties had low­ered their en­try-level scores was driven by profit.

“As it stands, very few stu­dents seek ad­mis­sion into these pri­vate uni­ver­si­ties be­cause of the low qual­ity of the teach­ing fac­ul­ties, lack of in­fra­struc­ture and ameni­ties, and poor re­search track records.

“So they are low­er­ing stan­dards to at­tract more stu­dents, and of course the over­rid­ing rea­son is the profit mo­tive,” the source who pre­ferred not to be named, vol­un­teered.

How­ever, the JAMB data also showed that a few pri­vate uni­ver­si­ties, in­clud­ing Afe Ba­balola Univer­sity, Covenant Univer­sity, PanAt­lantic Univer­sity, Ver­i­tas Univer­sity, Rit­man Univer­sity, and Oduduwa Univer­sity, still main­tained a higher min­i­mum score of 180, rep­re­sent­ing 45 per cent of the to­tal score of 400.

But older fed­eral uni­ver­si­ties such as Uni­lag, Uniben, OAU, Uni­lag and UNN, in­sisted on 200 as their min­i­mum cut-off mark.

Sur­pris­ingly, Univer­sity of Ilorin (Unilorin), which sev­eral stu­dents se­lect as their first choice, has a cut-off mark of 180, while no in­for­ma­tion was pro­vided by JAMB on what the cut-off mark for Ah­madu Bello Univer­sity (ABU), Zaria, the old­est and once the fore­most ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tion in North­ern Nige­ria.

Among the state uni­ver­si­ties, LASU has the high­est min­i­mum score of 190 as its cut-off mark, which sev­eral of the fed­eral and state uni­ver­si­ties set at be­tween 150 and 180.

Fur­ther­more, data on the 2017 Uni­fied Ter­tiary Ma­tric­u­la­tion Ex­am­i­na­tion (UTME) ap­pli­ca­tions also made avail­able by the JAMB spokesman re­vealed that the num­ber of stu­dents that se­lected pri­vate uni­ver­si­ties was sig­nif­i­cantly lower than those that se­lected fed­eral and state uni­ver­si­ties.

The data showed that of the 1,718,365 that wrote the UTME in 2017, less than one per cent (0.69%) ap­plied for ad­mis­sion into pri­vate uni­ver­si­ties.

In fact, the com­bined fig­ure of those that ap­plied for pri­vate uni­ver­si­ties, pri­vate poly­tech­nics, pri­vate col­leges of ed­u­ca­tion as well as pri­vate in­no­va­tive en­ter­prise ini­tia­tives was still less than one per cent (0.8 per cent) of the to­tal amount of those that wrote UTME in 2017 for ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions na­tion­wide.

Con­versely, ap­pli­ca­tions into pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties (fed­eral and state) stood at 96 per cent.

A break­down of this showed that while ap­pli­ca­tions into fed­eral uni­ver­si­ties was 70.5 per cent (1,212,818), that of state uni­ver­si­ties was put at 25 per cent (442,461).

“This showed that Nige­rian stu­dents and their par­ents still have more con­fi­dence in the pub­lic univer­sity sys­tem,” Ben­jamin ex­plained.

Some of the rea­sons in­clude qual­ity of the teach­ing fac­ul­ties, fa­cil­i­ties, and re­search, as well as af­ford­abil­ity.

The data also pro­vided by Ben­jamin put the to­tal num­ber of stu­dents that ap­plied for reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion as of Au­gust 28, 2017 at 49,426.

Reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion means stu­dents that were not ad­mit­ted through JAMB, but through re­me­dial and diploma pro­grammes in the re­spec­tive in­sti­tu­tions.

Auchi Polytech­nic, with 3,060 had the high­est num­ber of ap­pli­cants seek­ing reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion, Kogi State Polytech­nic, had 970 of such cases and Kwara State Polytech­nic, 940.

Most of the uni­ver­si­ties had fewer of such cases.

The JAMB spokesman ex­plained that the reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion list is up­dated reg­u­larly as more ap­pli­ca­tions come in.

The data by JAMB fur­ther re­vealed that Unilorin was the univer­sity of first choice in 2017, as it had the high­est num­ber of stu­dents that ap­plied for it in the UTME with 104,038 ap­pli­ca­tions.

This rep­re­sented nine per cent of the 1,212,818 UTME ap­pli­ca­tions into Nige­rian fed­eral uni­ver­si­ties in 2017.

Ben­jamin said stu­dents seek­ing ad­mis­sion into uni­ver­si­ties con­sid­ered aca­demic sta­bil­ity, pop­u­lar­ity, af­ford­abil­ity, avail­able fa­cil­i­ties and qual­ity of lec­tur­ers as part of their check­list be­fore mak­ing choices in their ap­pli­ca­tions.

Unilorin was closely fol­lowed by ABU, Zaria, with 89,688 ap­pli­ca­tions, Uniben with 85,486 ap­pli­ca­tions, UNN with 79,073 and Uni­lag with 78,899, in that or­der.

Among the state uni­ver­si­ties, LASU had the high­est num­ber of ap­pli­ca­tions with 36,119, fol­lowed by Kaduna State Univer­sity - 28,914, and Delta State Univer­sity - 28,672.

Among pri­vate uni­ver­si­ties, Covenant Univer­sity, with 2,438 had the high­est num­ber of ap­pli­ca­tions; it was closely fol­lowed by Bab­cock Univer­sity - 1,599 and Afe Ba­balola Univer­sity - 1,455. NANS Dis­misses JAMB’s Claims But even as JAMB churned out data to jus­tify the low cut-off marks se­lected by sev­eral ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions, NANS yes­ter­day called on the board to stop what it de­scribed as base­less and fruit­less ef­forts to jus­tify a very un­pop­u­lar pol­icy, adding that Nige­rian stu­dents had vowed to ve­he­mently re­sist it.

While re­act­ing to a state­ment by Ben­jamin on Mon­day, the NANS pres­i­dent, Mr. Chi­nonso Obasi said that JAMB’s claim that the down­ward re­view of the cut-off mark was to stop the quest for for­eign ed­u­ca­tion, was un­ac­cept­able.

De­scrib­ing the board’s ex­cuses and ex­pla­na­tions as “ridicu­lous”, Obasi stated that ev­i­dence had shown that the worst stu­dents in Nige­ria usu­ally turn out to be the best stu­dents abroad be­cause of the en­abling ed­u­ca­tional poli­cies, teach­ing fa­cil­i­ties, qual­ity of teach­ers and con­sis­tency in study time.

Ac­cord­ing to him, “Stu­dents’ abil­ity to learn and come out with out­stand­ing per­for­mances are a func­tion of the en­abling en­vi­ron­ment that is de­lib­er­ately cre­ated by re­spon­si­ble and re­spon­sive poli­cies like what ob­tains abroad and not retroac­tive and ret­ro­gres­sive poli­cies like what JAMB is try­ing to push.”

Obasi stated that only the chil­dren of the rich that school abroad, and so JAMB was in­sin­u­at­ing that the chil­dren of the rich are brain­less and can­not com­pete with the chil­dren of the poor who pa­tro­n­ise lo­cal ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions.

The NANS pres­i­dent called on JAMB to work with stake­hold­ers to ex­plore and find last­ing so­lu­tions to the chal­lenges fac­ing the Nige­rian ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor that would fa­cil­i­tate ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient learn­ing rather than em­bark­ing on an in­glo­ri­ous ex­er­cise of re­view­ing the cut-off mark.

He in­sisted that at a time the na­tion should be think­ing of im­prov­ing the prospects of com­pet­i­tive learn­ing, in line with the dic­tates of con­tem­po­rary times, JAMB was look­ing at low­er­ing stan­dards to en­cour­age in­do­lence and in­ep­ti­tude.

“JAMB’s po­si­tion is cer­tainly not in the in­ter­est of the growth of ed­u­ca­tion in the coun­try and the fu­ture of young peo­ple in the coun­try,” he said.

Obasi also re­gret­ted the re­cent un­for­tu­nate fire in­ci­dent that oc­curred at the fe­male hos­tel of the Plateau State Polytech­nic, Jos cam­pus, and con­dole with the stu­dents and man­age­ment of the in­sti­tu­tion.

How­ever, Ben­jamin ex­plained to THISDAY that his state­ment on Mon­day on Nige­rian stu­dents seek­ing univer­sity ed­u­ca­tion over­seas was in ref­er­ence to higher in­sti­tu­tions in other African and some­times Asian coun­tries, where some of the ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions of choice are far be­low Nige­rian and glob­ally ac­cepted ed­u­ca­tion stan­dards.

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