Controversy trails JAMB cut-off marks for varsities

Mixed reactions yesterday trailed the announcement of cut-off marks into the nation’s higher institutions by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB).

While some university administrators faulted the move describing it as an attempt to further lower the standard, others maintained that the decision was in the best interest of all concerned.

Vice chancellor, University of Ibadan (UI), Prof Idowu Olayinka who described the development as worrisome said the premier university would not go below 200 in its admission criteria.

Prof Olayinka in a chat with The Guardian wondered why a candidate with 30 percent score in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) should be offered admission into any of the nation’s universities.

He said, “it should worry us as patriots that candidates who scored just 30 percent in 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 percent. 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.

As strongly canvassed by us at every opportunity, for UI, the need to admit the best admission seekers is the primary motivation for post UTME, and not money, even though we do not pretend that you can run any university so properly without funds.

In a motley crowd of federal, state and private universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and innovation centres, standards and expectations differ. I can only speak for Ibadan. JAMB will do well to publish the cut off marks for the various institutions at the end of the current admission exercise. On the average the federal universities are more competitive followed by the state universities. The private universities are grossly undersubscribed partly on account of the cost. This will guide admission seekers in deciding on where to apply.

In the same vein, former vice chancellor of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Prof Shamsideen Tella described the decision as “ridiculous.”

Prof Tella who wondered on the rationale behind the new admission benchmark argued that the move would further lower the standard in the nation’s tertiary institutions.

He said, “it is a ridiculous decision; pass mark for examinations in the universities is not less than 40 percent, what is the motive for reducing the cut off marks? What is 120 to 400, that is very low, what is the objective? Is it to enhance access, if you want the institutions to take so many students, have you made facilities available and injected more funds into the sector? I think government is further killing the system.”

On his part, former vice chancellor, Caleb University, Prof Ayodeji Olukoju noted that reducing the cut-off mark to 120 would not encourage excellence.
He argued that to make the institutions centres of excellence, government must raise the bar of performance by ensuring that only the best gets into the universities.
University is a place where you only admit the talented and the best, I don’t think reducing the cut off mark to 20 is in the best interest of the system. What they are tying to do is to accommodate the educationally less disadvantaged states.”

But the JAMB Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede in justifying the action said most of the institutions except a few has never filled 70 percent of their admission capacity in the last 10 years.

Oloyede said the new benchmark was a joint decision of all stakeholders in the sector including vice chancellors, rectors and provosts.

He clarified that JAMB examination is merely a ranking exam for candidates while the primary criteria for admission to tertiary institutions is the O’level result.

“JAMB examination is not a qualifying examination;, it is a ranking exam, any candidate for admission to the university must be basically qualified with five O”Level subjects. In the past, the procedure is that anyone that scored below 200 is not qualified, but this year, we are saying a candidate that scores 120 has a chance because since we have been ranking at 200, we have never filled our quota in the last 10 years.”



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