ON June 2, 2016, the Federal Government announced the cancellation of post-Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) tests instituted by tertiary institutions, mainly universities, in 2007.
The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, announced this at the 2016 Combined Policy Meeting on Admissions to Universities, Polytechnics and other higher institutions. The meeting also pegged cut-off scores for admission into tertiary institutions at 180, or 45 per cent of 400 obtainable in the UTME test.
Announcing the decision, Mallam Adamu said: “as far as I am concerned, the nation has confidence in what JAMB is doing; the universities should not be holding another examinations and if the universities have any complaint against JAMB, let them bring it and then we address it.”
Actually, it was complaints against JAMB that led the same Federal Government to allow universities to conduct post-UTME tests. The Joint Admissions & Matriculations Board (JAMB) was set up in 1978 to conduct unified matriculation examinations and place students in universities. This effectively ended the autonomy which universities hitherto enjoyed in selecting students who met set criteria for admission.
However, over the years, admission racketeering blighted the process. Not only that, examination malpractice became a monster such that mercenary students wrote the tests for others, who gained admission but failed woefully in the tuition process. Coupled with a general feeling that educational standards have fallen drastically, there was a cacophonous cry that JAMB should be scrapped and universities allowed to admit their own students as was the case until 1977. The Federal Government was unwilling to scrap JAMB but instead allowed institutions to conduct post-UTME tests.
Now that post-UTME tests have been scrapped, it is back to square one. Our government’s public policy inconsistency continues. With 1,700,000 students applying every year for approximately 800,000 admission spaces, it is understating the fact that the nation has an admission crisis of leviathan proportions.
Scrapping post-UTME tests will unwittingly put the admission racketeers back in business. Admission is, once again, for the highest bidders.
We stand firmly for university autonomy and support the idea that they should control their own admission processes in line with their respective institutional visions. If JAMB will not yet be scrapped, then the post-UTME must be restored to enable every university take hold of the quality control of students coming under their tutelage.
We condemn capricious changes in government policy in Nigeria. It gives an impression of us a confused country. After over fifty years of indigenous university administration and ownership, we ought to have laid a solid and dependable foundation upon which our educational sector can steadily grow, rather than this see-saw inconsistency, which is usually rooted in corruption and negative politics.