When the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board(JAMB) made its decision to reassign candidates of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination(UTME)into other institutions as a way of proffering solution to the ongoing crisis surrounding the 2015/ 2016 university admission exercise little did they know the controversy it would berth.
It all started at the early hours of Wednesday, July 22, when hundreds of Unified Matriculation Examination candidates in a peaceful protest stormed the University of Lagos over the high cut-off marks for 2015/2016 post-UTME screening.
As early as 7am, these candidates with their parents gathered at the university gates to protest against the decision of the institution to stop candidates from writing the forthcoming post UTME, and in solidarity songs, they demanded the removal of the JAMB registrar, Dibu Ojerinde.
Following the rancour, the Head of Media of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, Fabian Benjamin, said universities are allowed to go above the National admission examination cut off mark, though JAMB had earlier announced 180 as the cut off score for admission into degree programmes and 150 for national certificate in education, national diploma and national innovation diplomas.
While explaining, Mr. Benjamin in a statement said a university, depending on its peculiarities , can raise its cut off mark above the national recommendation of 180.He added that the University of Lagos decided that their cut off point should be 250 as a means of getting the best candidates.
He said, “If the University of Lagos has over 25,000 students applying and they have a carrying capacity of less than 7,000 and has over 15,000 candidates that scored over 250, why will they take less than 250. It simply means the university is trying to see how they can get the best”
Mr Benjamin further explained that there was nothing wrong with what the university did as there will come a time when schools will fix cut off scores at 300 adding that JAMB will not take anything less than what was officially announced as the cut-off score.
And for its decision to reassign candidates who do not meet the cut-off marks of their first choice institutions to other needy institutions, JAMB explained that the idea is to assist the reassigned candidates to have better chances of securing admission to the citadels of learning.
The statement released by the body read, “The decision of JAMB on the print-out for this year’s exercise is done in good faith, not to jeopardise the rights of candidates due to individual cut-offs set by some Nigerian tertiary institutions.
“Those candidates who do not meet the cut-off marks of such institutions will be placed in needy institutions within their geopolitical zones, depending on the available space in such institutions. The aim is to accommodate as many candidates as possible, instead of just pushing them to schools we know, abinitio, do not have the carrying capacity to admit all.”
“The board, equally, urges candidates and their parents to check its website from Friday, July 31, 2015 for their names and institutions they are placed in.
According to the statement, universities are centres of excellence anywhere in the world and that of Nigeria should not be an exception.
In the middle of the controversy, there were accusations that the Registrar of JAMB had collected money from private institutions thus the reason some candidates who choose a different school were assigned to another school. He was also accused of wanting to accrue 1billion naira, which would be the estimated return generated from the exercise.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities, University of Ibadan chapter condemned the body’s policy of reassigning candidates to other tertiary institutions other that their choices.
ASUU chairman in UI, Prof. Segun Ajiboye, while reacting to the policy, described it as insensitive and exploitative of the children of the poor, adding that it amounted to an abuse of their fundamental human rights of freedom to choice.
Ajiboye lashed out at the Registrar for being so insensitive to the plights of the Nigerian masses, whose parents have not been paid for months by some governors but are now being forced to pay 1,000 to know where they are reassigned against their choices. He added that candidates choose universities considering quality, cost, proximity, courses of choice, among others before making decisions.
Will Jibu Oderinde pay for the fees so charged by the institutions (including exorbitant fees in private and state universities) where the candidates have been assigned? He asked.
There were also accusations from Dotun Sodunke, the President of the Association of Tutorial Centre Operators (ATCO).He emphasized that private universities paid professor Ojerinde to help them divert candidates from the last JAMB test for them to have student population in their less patronized institutions. He also alleged that the board has deceived and defrauded candidates of the JAMB examination for several years
In defence, he said the body had not requested for any candidates to pay for a certain fee which he claimed is wrong. He further stated that candidates do not need to pay any fee for anything that all information would be gotten from the body’s website.
He also stated that the need for candidates to be reassigned to other institution came because of the standard already laid down by the some institutions. For instance he said Unilag statistics in 2013 for candidates who applied for law was over 5,000 and 517 were chosen. He said instead of wasting candidates time and money, they felt list should be sent to their school. He added that University of Lagos isn’t the only institution around, that candidates should consider other institution.
From research, Hallmark newspaper gathered, other institutions also have their laid down cut-off mark. While UNILAG insisted on 250, the Obafemi Awolowo University,Ile Ife also claimed the institution can’t take 180 as its cut-off mark. The Public Relations Officer of the institution, Mr. Abiodun Olanrewaju, said that the institution cannot adopt the JAMB’s cut-off mark of 180.
Although he said the OAU had not decided the cut-off marks for the current admission process, he said 180 could only apply to institutions that were ‘looking for candidates.”
Olanrewaju said, “The OAU has a particular standard of excellence below which we cannot drop. We have to maintain that standard so that when they see our graduates anywhere, all the marks of excellence that define us will be there.”
While the PRO said that the university would determine its cut-off marks only after it would have conducted the post-UME, he explained that about 50,000 candidates applied for admission to OAU this year, out of which it would take 6,000.
For candidates who applied to the University of Ibadan, they have to wait for some time before they can know its cut-off marks. According to the university’s Director of Public Communication, Mr. Tunji Oladejo, relevant authorities had not deliberated on the matter.
But, he however stated that the average cut-off mark in the school was usually 200.
For the number of candidates who registered into different tertiary institutions of learning for 2015, findings revealed that out of the 1.4million candidates,2 percent which is equivalent to 20,000 opted for private institution while 98 prefers a public institutions.
The Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, owned by David Oyedepo has the highest number of applicants with 3,042 candidates. Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo; Madonna University, Okija and the Igbinedion University Okada have 2, 101; 686 and 426 respectively.
173 candidates opted for the Bell University, Ota, Ogun State, owned by former President Olusegun Obasanjo while the American University of Nigeria, Yola, belonging to a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has 198 candidates.
Five candidates opted for the Kwarafa University, Wukari, Obong University, Ntak,16 candidates The Wellspring University, Ogbaneki, Benin, Edo State, has seven candidates while Renaissance University, Ojiagu-Agbani, Enugu and Rhena University, Obeama, Rivers State, has eight and 10 candidates respectively.
University of Ilorin, Kwara State, topped with 107,491 candidates. The University of Benin, Edo State has 71,497 candidates; Nnamdi Azikwe University, Awka, Anambra State has 70,609 candidates, while the University of Nigeria, Nsukka has 66,791 candidates.
The University of Lagos has 62,473 candidates, placing it in the fifth position; Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, has 60,254 candidates to occupy the sixth position, while UI has 47, 501 candidates. The Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, attracted only 43,967 candidates.
The University of Maiduguri has 20, 322 candidates.