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Tuesday, 12 July 2016

JAMB’s admission guidelines

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) recently issued guidelines for admission of candidates into federal, state and private universities in Nigeria for the 2016/2017 academic session. Announcement of the guidelines followed a week-long meeting held with administrators of universities and other tertiary institutions in Nigeria. The new set of guidelines which consist of some parameters called the Point System Option (PSO) authorizes tertiary institutions to charge fees for screening of candidates seeking admission through the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and Direct Entry (DE).

According to the guidelines, a candidate must have been offered provisional admission by JAMB before he/she could be considered for screening by an admitting institution. In the PSO guidelines, a candidate who submits only one Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) result which could be from WAEC, NECO or NABTEB earns ten points while another who combines two separate results earned after two sittings only earns two points, putting the latter at a disadvantage. PSO also grades the credit level passes obtained by candidates in each subject into different points. These are A=6, B=4, and C=3; this limits the admission chances of a candidate with lower credit pass even though A, B, and C are all credit passes.

The guidelines also provide for a grouping of UTME scores. Candidates who scored 180-185 get 20 points; those who scored 186-190 get 21 points; candidates with 200-250 get 24-33 points; and candidates with300-400 get 44-60 points. According to JAMB, it is the tally of points obtained by a candidate from these re-grading and collation systems that determine his/her admission into a university or other tertiary institutions.

It is obvious from these PSO details that JAMB is acting outside its mandate, arrogating to itself powers that belong to tertiary institutions and the Federal Ministry of Education (FME). For instance, the parameter which gives ten points to a candidate with one result and two points for two results is an undue interference with tertiary institutions’ mandate. The ultimate authority on academic matters including admission requirements and award of degrees in a university is its Senate, not JAMB.  Senate reserves the right to stipulate that candidates who obtained five credit passes in relevant subjects at not more than two sittings are eligible for admission.

JAMB’s re-grading of credit passes obtained by candidates in SSCE is also discriminatory. It is not part of JAMB’s schedule, after examination bodies have distinguished between credit passes, to further discriminate between the grades. Further analysis of the final grades obtained in SSCE is irrelevant in this process as a credit pass is enough interpretation of the grade required for admission purposes. Further collation of UTME scores with points allocated for each range of scores only provides basis for interrogating the validity of the UTME scores which results originated from the same JAMB, which set and administered the UTME.

The authority given to institutions to collect administrative charges from candidates during admission exercise proves our fears that financial gain is the main motive.  It also suggests that the scrapped post-UTME is being smuggled in through the backdoor. JAMB seeks to replace the scrapped post-UTME with another post-UTME screening named PSO. Only recently, Minister of Education Malam Adamu Adamu announced the scrapping of post-UTME after a stakeholders’ meeting in Abuja. The minister also directed JAMB to stop charging N1,000 paid by each candidate for accessing UTME results.

Even if there are good motives behind PSO, announcing such only after the release of UTME results and after a cut-off point for admission had been set does not speak well of JAMB. Some stakeholders are already calling for the scrapping of JAMB since the admission buck stops at the table of each institution. JAMB should restrict itself to its statutory mandate. JAMB should also improve upon the system failure encountered in the 2016 UTME and avert a repeat of the allocation of 40 marks to candidates for free.

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