In Nigeria’s tertiary education, it never rains
but it pours. ‘JAMB reinstates post-UTME’;
‘ASUU begins indefinite strike’; ‘JAMB reduces
cut-off marks, varsities kick’; and ‘New cut-off
marks to favour private varsities’, so the
headlines have been screaming in the last
couple of days.
There is a conundrum of claims and
counterclaims; an example is the issue of the
cut-off marks for the 2017/2018 session.
Everyone is angry with Prof. Ishaq Oloyede
and the organisation he superintends over –
the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board
(JAMB). Not a few vice chancellors of public
universities have spoken up against the JAMB
registrar and in the midst of the counterclaims
and charges; nobody seems to be listening to
the exam body, which has struggled over the
years to remain relevant in its chequered
But left for the universities, a requiem would
have been conducted on JAMB – as there is no
love lost between JAMB and the institutions,
especially when it comes to admission.
Perhaps, it is time the Federal Government
reconsidered the usefulness of the exam body,
which in most recent times has been accused of
formulating policies skewed in favour of
private higher institutions.
With private universities, as claimed, more
likely to accept admission seekers with low cut-
off marks, public higher institutions seem
determined to up their ante. There was also an
allegation that JAMB’s latest policy on cut-off
marks was designed to favour the North. With
the current social-security issues in the North,
fewer admission seekers are heading in that
direction; that may sooner or later asphyxiate
the continued sustainability of the universities
and polytechnic in that region. Will JAMB’s
lowered cut-off marks be enough incentives
for parents to allow their children to head to
the north for higher education in the face of
daunting security challenges? Only time will
tell, as many youths get frustrated with their
inability to get admitted into the universities of
their choice in the South.
There is obvious politics in the latest policy of
the exam body, some analysts have claimed.
They believe that no matter how hard it tries
to shake off the various allegations levelled
against it, JAMB will remain the whipping boy
in terms of admission issues into tertiary
The recent volte-face of the vice chancellors is
an ominous signpost that universities are
succeeding in having their way while allowing
JAMB to have its say, the exam board pressed
between a rock and a hard place.
In 2016, at a Policy Meeting on Admissions, the
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, scrapped
the Post-UTME, arguing that such exercise was
not only unnecessary but placed heavy burden
on students and their parents – that did not go
down well with the universities that felt JAMB
and the education ministry were being too
meddlesome in their admission process.
At the 2017 meeting, however, Adamu reversed
the ban, asserting that the nation’s tertiary
institutions should be independent in terms of
the admission process.
On August 22, it was agreed that the tertiary
institutions determine their admission process
and that cut-off marks should be fixed by each
school’s senate, not JAMB.
At that meeting, all the1,200 representatives of
the various tertiary institutions agreed to the
new cut-off marks regime which many vice
chancellors and the Academic Staff Union of
Universities (ASUU) have kicked against as they
described it as “sad policy decision,” and that it
was in tandem “with the dream of the present
government to destroy public universities in
the country.” Universities are admitting
students illegally and many of these ones did
not write the UTME, JAMB insists.
“Today, we are where we are because many
are afraid to say the truth. All heads of tertiary
institutions were requested to submit their
cut-off benchmark to the board, which will
then be used for the admission.
“We are now starting the monitoring of
adherence to admissions guidelines – cut-off
marks inclusive. The cut-off marks being
branded by the public were never strictly
followed by most institutions as most of them
were going behind to admit candidates with far
less with others admitting candidates who
never sat for JAMB,” a statement issued
recently by JAMB said.
ASUU did not find that statement
complimentary. “Where are those that JAMB
registrar said entered universities illegally?
Which universities admitted them? If 30 per
cent did not take JAMB and found their way
into the university system is that not
corruption and a message that JAMB is not
significant anymore? What sanction did those
who did the illegal admission receive other
than regularisation of illegality? We are
watching because long before now we have
said that JAMB has outlived its usefulness. Let
the universities set their unique standards and
those who are qualified can come in.
“Even in those days, 40 per cent was graded as
fail. But now JAMB said with F9, which is
scoring 30 per cent, you can be admitted. They
deliberately want to destroy education. Even
for polytechnics 100 marks is 25 per cent. It is
sad. And that is where we are in Nigeria. They
want to destroy public education at all cost.
This is not setting standard for education in
Nigeria. It is purely lowering standards and
digging the grave for the future. This is why
ASUU is currently on the struggle to influence
the government to do the needful for
education in Nigeria,” Chairman ASUU,
University of Ibadan, Dr Deji Omole, said.