BY LAJU ARENYEKA
Many candidates registering for this year’s Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations, UTME, were shocked when they were given the choice to pick only one university of their choice, contrary to the traditional first and second choice options of universities and/or polytechnics. The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, responsible for the UTME, in a new policy has made it compulsory for candidates to pick one university, one polytechnic, one college of education and one innovative enterprise institute (IEI) when registering for their exams.
The Registrar, JAMB, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, believes that this policy will go a long way in solving the admission crisis bedeviling the country. In an exclusive interview with Vanguard Learning, he said: “Most university managements claim that they do not run second class universities, and as a result, do not want to admit students who choose them as a second choice. From our experience, universities refuse to take students who make them a second choice, but they do not hesitate to collect the students’ money when they want to write the post-UTME. And this is not fair to students.
So last year, Vice Chancellors of universities, provosts of Polytechnics and other stakeholders in the sector decided that students should only pick one university, one polytechnic, one college of education and one innovative enterprise institute when applying to write the UTME. If they do not follow these instructions, they cannot apply. We are also hoping that this will go a long way to curb the admission crisis. A lot of times, there are spaces in tertiary institutions other than universities, but the bottle neck lies in the fact that everyone wants to go to the university.
So, beyond this move, the government must go a step further to make these tertiary institutions degree-awarding institutions. Professor Oby Ezekwesili had suggested this earlier. For example, Polytechnics should be given the authority to award Bachelor of Technology awards. This will go a long way in solving the dichotomy that exists which causes candidates to flock mostly to the universities.”
As expected, most candidates are not pleased with the development. One of such, Victoria Akachukwu told our correspondent: “I don’t really like the idea of choosing only one university,” she said, “because it means that my chances for entering the university are slimmer.
But on the other hand, it just means that I have to work much harder so that I can get into the university and study my dream course which is Law. Last year, I got admission into a polytechnic, but my Dad did not want me to attend. So I have to try really hard so I can get into a university this year.”
Other stakeholders are more concerned about the implementation of the directive than the paper it is written on. The chairman, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, Dr. Chibuzor Asomugha argued: “There have been different kinds of policies in the past, but the problem is always with the implementation. Whatever step is being taken, stakeholders should ensure that they follow up implementation.”
Speaking to Vanguard Learning, Dr. Andrews Jegede, the National President of the Association of Innovation and Vocational Institutions, said: “If this is well implemented, then the admission crisis the country is facing is already solved. It means that government is beginning to understand the need to give technical, vocational and teaching education their rightful place. What we must do now is to encourage JAMB to ensure that the cut-off marks agreed on are enforced across board. In other words: 180 and above for universities, 160-169 for polytechnics, 150-159 for colleges of education, and 150-159 for innovative enterprise institutes.”
There are about 120 institutions approved by the FME and accredited by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), and have been listed by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board since 2007. IEIs cover areas such as computer hardware engineering, software engineering, multimedia technology, oil and gas, information technology, creative arts, industrial welding, early childcare education, paralegal studies, computer networking and securities, film production and many more.
The National Innovation Diploma (NID) is the certification approved by the FME for IEIs. It is the equivalent of the National Diploma, and it is equally four semesters of course work spanning over two years with Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES).
In the past few years, the nation’s higher institutions have only been able to accommodate about one third of the population of teeming candidates who write the UTME every year. Whether the new resolutions made by JAMB will help solve the admission crisis, remains to be seen.