By DAYO ADESULU
After June 1, the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) for 2013 would have been over with 1.7million students left alone to jostle for the 520,000 admission spaces in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
It will be recalled that on April 27, 1,629,102 candidates wrote the Paper-Pencil Test (PPT), while 15,008 candidates did the Dual-Based Test, bringing the total number of candidates to1,644,110.
Similarly, on 18th May to June 1st, the second phase of the 2013 UTME known as Computer-Based Test would have been ended with 91,610 candidates writing the examination.
For those who meet JAMB cut-off marks for universities, polytechnics, monotechnics and colleges of education, their chances of securing admission is slim as they are still going to face the challenge of beating their choice institution’s cut-off mark.
In other words, meeting JAMB cut-off score does not guarantee automatic admission into any tertiary institution in Nigeria, if you do not meet your chosen institution’s cut-off score which is usually higher than that of JAMB.
Over the years, many students who met JAMB cut-off score (often between 160-180) had ended up not getting admission as they could not meet the cut-off marks of their universities of choice and so could not sit for the aptitude test.
What next? Post-UTME? Yes. “It is a must” says all tertiary institutions. According to some universities, this is the only trusted examination where they can assess the true academic performance of any student seeking admission into their schools.
Thus, a student who scored 250 in JAMB can end up scoring 150 in post- UTME conducted and supervised by each institution.
I know of a student who scored 240 and above in 2012 UTME who did not pass his post-UTME.
The question many parents and students are asking is: Must students be subjected to this rigorous process before getting admission into tertiary institutions, as many students have to travel hundreds of kilometres to stay for two or more days for post-UTME?
However, the question begging for an answer from concerned stakeholders in the sector is: With the examination malpractice that characterised the just-concluded UTME paper-pencil test, can institutions be blamed for insisting on post-UTME before admitting a student?
Professor Dibu Ojerinde after the release of last week’s UTME result said; “The results of 68,309 candidates from various centres are undergoing further screening to ascertain their culpabilities while 12,110 candidates’ results are withheld for possible disciplinary action.”
He lamented that no fewer than 10 centres were guilty of examination malpractice as invigilators and supervisors connived with students to cheat.
Besides, another point to consider in UTME admission process which calls for urgent attention, is the rationale behind selling of 1.7 million forms to students when JAMB knows that there are only 520,000 available spaces for students in our tertiary institutions.
Similarly, in 2012, they sold registration forms to about 1.5 million students when they were fully aware of only 500,000 spaces.
The trend which has been on for years is giving stakeholders concern. They said that JAMB seems only interested in the profit generated from the sales of forms and not really in the admission of students.
If the available admission spaces are just 500,000, why allow the sale of forms to the tune of 1.7 million when they know that the remaining 1.2 million candidates will be left unadmitted?
Let us assume all UTME candidates read and prepared adequately for the examination and scored above 250 both in UTME and post-UTME, what will JAMB and the various institutions of higher learning do to admit all the 1.7 million students?
These inadequacies are probably why stakeholders are requesting for more universities, expansion of present universities and upgrading of our polytechnics to universities.
This shortage of admission space might be the reason why students study abroad including neighbouring African countries.
Statistics from JAMB Registrar revealed that many students who sat for the 2013 UTME still preferred the university system to any other as 1,670,833 candidates applied for universities, 28,977 for polytechnics, 28,445 for colleges of education while just 25 people applied for innovative enterprise institutes.
But where are the university spaces for these 1.7 million? Just like the argument of Stephen Agada, a 2013 UTME candidate who scored 247 in 2012 without admission, and scored 205 in 2013 who said;
“When I saw my score, I was surprised because I prepared hard and the questions were very simple. After the examination, I came back home to cross check what I wrote and discovered that I should score nothing less than 250, but to my dismay, I was given 205. I can contest my scores in the four subjects,” he added.
Could there be some level of politics played on some students’ results because of the few admission spaces?”
Reacting to this, Professor Ngozi Osarenren reiterated that the only way to salvage our education sector from imminent collapse is to allow each university to conduct its entrance examination, adding that by so doing, universities would be able to determine the quality of students they admit.
“I still maintain my position that post- UTME is the sure way of maintaining sanity in the admission process. Until each university starts conducting admission examination, that is when sanity will be brought into the system.”
Also reacting, the Dean of Education, University of Calabar, Professor Florence Banku Obi who commended the JAMB registrar for his various moves to curb examination malpractice, however, lamented that JAMB candidates are devising new methods yearly to cheat as it has become their culture.
She said; “How are we sure that those who scored 300 and above were not among those who cheated but escaped being caught as JAMB registrar cannot be in every place? Unfortunately, those who supposed to supervise them in many of those centres connived with JAMB candidates.”
According to Obi, this is to confirm that there is a lot of malpractice going on in the system.
“I will use this opportunity to call on the National Assembly to enact a law that will enable each university to conduct examination for qualified candidates. This will reduce examination malpractice and produce the right candidates for admission,” she said.