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University Autonomy Versus JAMB Control

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What’s the point in conducting post Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination by universities all over Nigeria particularly private ones when candidates’ good performance in that exam does not really guarantee anything? After all, what universities do with post UTME results is subject to the dictates of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board.

Why do universities make both parents and admission seekers go through unnecessary hardship when they know that JAMB has the final say on who is admitted to the university at the end of the day?

Parents and guardians of admission seekers spend extra money every year on air and road travels in their bid to take their children and wards to venues of their post UTME. Apart from the huge costs involved, some die in accidents. Some parents and children were reportedly some of the victims of the last plane crash in the country.

This year again parents came from as far as Abuja to Lagos, Iwo and other parts of the country accompanying their children who were writing their post UTME.

I can recall some of the reasons adduced for post UTME by universities a few years back. One of them is to ensure that universities admit quality students. According to them, candidates offered admission by JAMB often ended up being below standard. The idea was to be able to sift candidates selected by JAMB to ensure they are up to standard,

While universities’ decision to sift their candidates might not be a bad idea, the universities were silent on what happens when they adjudge candidates to be good for admission and JAMB thinks otherwise. This has remained the crux of the matter.

As a mother whose daughter sought university admission this year, I had cause to take my child to different universities for her post-UTME. At that time JAMB had not released its cut-off mark for university admission. The question parents kept on asking university authorities at the parents’ forums was what happened if their children did well in the university exams and failed to meet JAMB’s cut off mark. The universities had no answer.

It turned out that many candidates did well in the post UTME but scored below JAMB’s cut-off mark. For instance, Babcock University asked candidates whose names appeared on its admission list but failed to meet JAMB’s requirement not to bother paying the university’s acceptance fee.

If JAMB is still this relevant, why subject admission seekers to unnecessary stress? Why does JAMB have to wait for weeks before releasing its cut-off marks? If JAMB could release UTME results within one week of writing the exam, why should it wait for another six weeks before declaring its cut-off marks? Why allow parents to spend thousands of Naira to obtain admission forms to private universities or pay for different post-UTMEs, wasting money on needless trips before releasing the cut-off marks?

Though I don’t really subscribe to fixing a cut-off for admission, fixing 180 for university admission would have been okay by me if there are no question marks on either the integrity of JAMB as an exam body or on UTME as a whole. There were reports of cheatings and other forms of exam malpractices in this exam which unfortunately cannot just be swept aside.

Whether JAMB likes it or not, the ministry of education would still have to work something out to resolve the issue of admission into Nigeria’s universities. With public universities over-stretched and multitudes of admission seekers out there, government needs to take a more pragmatic measure to solve the gigantic problem in the education sector. Every year over one million people seek admission to higher institutions in Nigeria. The figure keeps increasing every year. But the entire system could only absorb 500,000 according to the minister of education, Prof. Ruqayyat Rufai. A country in a situation like this needs to work on maximising its capacity to absorb as many students as possible.

But that is not happening now. The situation now is that some universities, especially private universities, have spaces that are yet to be filled. There are candidates that meet such universities’ admission criteria, but universities’ hands are tied by government regulation.

Let’s face it, while public universities usually have more than enough candidates to admit, thus always exceeding their carrying capacity, private universities will continue to have spaces because it costs money to study there. Tuition in private universities range from N650, 000 to N2m per session depending on the course of study. A large number of Nigerians cannot afford this.

Instead of piling up the list of admission seekers every year, I think government should allow those that can afford private university education and who are qualified by these universities’ standard to proceed to the university. This will not only decongest the list of admission seekers, it will also reduce capital flight.

There was a report that Nigerians spend N160bn annually in two Ghanaian universities. Ironically, Ghana and other countries admit the same candidates that are rejected in Nigeria because of unnecessary government regulations. Universities in other parts of the world won’t need JAMB’s permission to admit candidates. Instead of allowing parents to keep on taking their money out of the country to receive sometimes half-baked education, government could review its law.

Right now, some parents are in agony. For some of them, their children scored between 170 and 179. They have the money to pay in private universities and would have loved their children to remain in Nigeria for at least their first degree programmes, but they are being denied of that chance. This shouldn’t be.

After all, the autonomy of Nigerian universities is claimed to be backed by law. If that is the case, institutions should be able to establish their own programmes of study recruit their own students and have some levels of control. True autonomy connotes organisations having the freedom or freewill to set their own rules and regulations without interference and control from outside especially from government.

Agreed universities must operate under the law of the land because autonomy doesn’t just give the right to do anything at any point in time, universities should still have the freedom to set and maintain their own academic standards just like the foreign universities do.









Source: Punch


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