Stakeholders Differ on Cut-off Marks for Admission Seekers
Gaining admission is now tougher.’ This was how a 19-year-old university admission seeker, Boladale Ilori, reacted having read the fixing of 180 as cut-off points into universities and 150 into polytechnics and colleges of education for the 2014 admissions.
Ilori, who said he scored 216 in the last Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, was of the view that the lowering of the cut-off point would increase the number of candidates vying for admissions into tertiary institutions.
He said, ‘’I am optimistic that I will do well in the post-UTME of my preferred university but I am sure that there will be too many candidates competing for admission this year with the lowering of the cut-off points.’’
The Federal Government, in agreement with the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, fixed the cut-off marks for 2014 admissions into universities at 180 and that of polytechnics and colleges of education at 150.
Report indicated that the cut-off points were determined on Tuesday after the fifth Combined Policy meeting on admissions into tertiary institutions held at the National Universities Commission, Abuja. The Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, who spoke at the event, lamented failure of most tertiary institutions to utilise their admission quota.
He also added that as part of efforts to boost access, institutions which failed to utilise their admission quota for 2014 should be ready to face sanction.
Wike said, “I have been briefed that despite the rising demand for higher education vis-a-vis the availability of a large number of qualified candidates, some institutions did not fully utilise the admission quota approved for them by relevant regulatory agencies in 2013. This disservice to the Nigerian child is totally unacceptable. In line with efforts of the Federal Government to improve access, let me urge you all to with effect from today, work assiduously to ensure that all admission spaces in your institutions for the current year are fully utilised within the approved time frame.”
The Registrar and Chief Executive of JAMB, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, also said in the 2014 UTME, 1,584,348 candidates applied for degree awarding institutions representing 70 per cent; National Certificate in Education applicants were 25,767 representing 1.6 per cent; National Diploma applicants were 22,072, representing 1.3 per cent while National Innovation Diploma recorded 46, representing 0.003 per cent.
Ojerinde wondered why Nigeria’s educational system has consistently failed to embrace technical education in its quest for industrialisation, noting that the British system which Nigeria copied now award degree in all its polytechnics.
The National Coordinator of the Education Rights Campaign, Mr. Hassan Taiwo, told SUNDAY PUNCH that the lowering of the cut-off marks for admission seekers into universities, polytechnics and colleges of education was laudable.
He, however, added that such move should not make government abandon the proper funding of education at the primary and secondary level.
Taiwo said, ‘’We are happy that government knows that it is important to reduce the cut-off points for candidates seeking admission into tertiary institutions in the country. The step will make many of the candidates to vie for places in their preferred institutions. But it is important for government to also know that reducing the cut-off marks is not enough to abandon the funding of education at the foundation levels. One cannot continue to lower the standard in order to afford many candidates the opportunity to gain admission into tertiary institutions. It will amount to nothing if at the end of the day there is no quality in the products being churned out at the primary and secondary levels.’’
ERC also bemoaned the problems UTME candidates often encounter in the course of seeking placement into tertiary institutions.
On his part, a lecturer in the Department of Psychology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Prof. Oluwatoba Elegbeleye, noted that some universities could admit candidates with 180, but added that the pegging of such mark as cut-off point by the Federal Government and the JAMB would only apply to certain categories of universities.
He stated that universities have the autonomy to run their activities and admit students as they deem fit.
‘’Some universities may admit candidates who scored 180 in UTME but I don’t see such happening in all the universities. Universities have autonomy in that respect. They can determine their cut-off points when it comes to such issue. I believe that the pegging of the cut-off mark to 180 for university admission in 2014 is applicable to some universities and not all, ‘’ he said.
A lecturer in the department of English, University of Lagos, Dr. Adetokunbo Pearse, said there was no need lowering the cut-off points when those who scored high marks would still be subjected to post-UTME in their chosen institutions.
He noted that even without reducing the cut-off points, tertiary institutions in the country only admit few candidates out of the many who sit the UTME each academic session.
Pearse stated, ‘’Why bother to lower the cut-off marks when some of the candidates will still not be admitted? Before the reduction of cut-off point for 2014 admission process into tertiary institutions, the universities allowed only candidates with 200 and above to take post-UTME. With the pegging of cut-off mark to 180 for 2014 admission, candidates with lower grades will still take the post-UTME with those who scored above 200.The post-UTME is like a racket and those who do not meet the cut-off point in the different courses they chose will still not be admitted. So, why bother to reduce the cut-off points for them in the first instance?’’
Also, a PhD student in one of the federal universities in the country, Mr. Adausu Emuobo, urged the Federal Government to tackle the rot in the education sector rather than concentrate on pegging cut-off points.
He noted that the stakeholders in the sector should ask why some candidates got lower scores while others earned high grades.
According to him, the way to encourage learning is not to swell the population of students in tertiary institutions by reducing cut-off marks.
Emuobo added, ‘’I think the measure is aimed at sending many academically weak candidates into tertiary institutions. These are candidates who performed woefully at multiple choice questions. How would they address essay-related questions that require logic and mental work? Parents and their wards who the decision favour may be happy with the development. But it does not in any way assist the education sector.’’
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The student further said the standard of education or the level of competence of learners and their capacities had not been raised in any way through the lowering of the entry point for those seeking admission into tertiary institutions. (Punch)