By Dayo Adesulu
UNIVERSITIES in Nigeria will soon be operating at a Cumulative Grade Point Average, CGPA, of 4.0 as against the existing 5.0 and 7.0, if plans by the National Universities Commission, NUC, are implemented.
Vanguard investigations revealed that the Commission had not been pleased with the different CGPA adopted by different universities. At the moment, while most universities have adopted the 5.0, few others have adopted 6.0 and 7.0 as their perfect score. An insider at the NUC who craved anonymity because he was not empowered to speak to the press told Vanguard that the commission took the decision after a stakeholders’ meeting held in 2015.
According to him, during the one-day workshop held on Monday, September 21, 2015 on the review of grading system in the Nigerian University System, it was agreed that the Pass Degree should be abolished from the grading system. He said that relevant stakeholders at the meeting included vice-chancellors, deputy vice-chancellors, academics as well as directors of academic planning, DAPs.
Abolition of the Pass Degree
He noted that at the workshop, former NUC Executive Secretary, Professor Julius Okojie, drew the attention of the stakeholders to the fact that the commission had abolished the Pass Degree from the grading and classification of degrees in the university system in 2006.
He quoted Okojie as saying, “Under the policy, the minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average, CGPA, required by a student for graduation is 1.5. When the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standard, BMAS, documents were reviewed in 2007, the technical implications of the policy was not considered, thereby allowing individual instructions and disciplines to implement the directive discretionally.
“While some disciplines used the 6 grade points of 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0 for letter grades of A, B, C, D, E, and F respectively, other disciplines removed the E grade altogether thereby having a grading system with grade points of 5, 4, 3, 2, 0 for letter grades of A, B, C, D, and F respectively. These methods had incontrovertibly introduced two systems of grading within the university system that had some technical implications on the grading of students.”
The source added that the NUC management in attendance at the workshop included the Deputy Executive Secretary I, Professor Chiedu Felix Mafiana; Directors of the Executive Secretary’s Office, Mrs. Constance Goddy-Nnadi; Protocol and Special Duties, Mr. Chris Maiyaki; Finance and Account, Mr. Sam Onazi; Open and Distance Education, Dr. Olamide Adesina; Students Support Services, Dr. Rukayyat Gurin; Inspection and Monitoring, Mr. Felix Olaniyan as well as Physical Planning and Development, Mr. Ayo Bankole, among others.
Explaining further, Vanguard source said some of the decisions taken at the meeting were to ensure that all Nigerian universities operate a uniform CGPA and to abolish the ‘Pass’ grade. He said: “The Commission has agreed that instead of universities operating different CGPA of 5.0 and some 6.0, there should be a uniform gradient point of 4.0. This, they also believed, would upgrade those with ordinary pass to third class, because the certificates of third class graduates are almost useless.”
While confirming that the information making the round was not completely false, he stated that time for the implementation of the changes was not mentioned at the meeting.
Meanwhile, the University of Ibadan which is operating a 7-Point Grading System had since passed a circular in 2016 for the implementation of the 4-Point Grading System as instructed by the NUC. In the U.I official website, Professor Ayobami Kehinde wrote a memo to the various departments, reminding them of the February 25 and March 2, 2016 memos on the subject matter.
According to him, the decision to effect the grading system was put on hold in 2016 due to some logistic constraints, adding that the implementation was due in the 2016/2017 academic session. He said: “I write to inform you of Senate’s decision at its meeting of July 18, 2016, on the new grading system and minimum units to be registered for and passed by students at each level, as well as change in the status of GES courses in the university.”
While stating reasons for the new grading system, Kehinde said: “The 4-Point Scale Grading System should be adopted to align with other universities world-wide and the recommendation of the National Universities Commission, NUC.” According to him, under the new 4-Point Grading Scale, A (70 and above) 4; B (60-69%) 3; C (50-59%) 2; D (45-49%) 1 and E (40-44%) 0.
In his explanation, he said, CGPA ranges under the new 4- Point Grading Scale for Classification of Degrees: 3.5- 4.00 – First Class Honours, 3.0-3.49 – Second Class Honours (Upper Division), 2.0-2.99 – Second Class Honours (Lower Division) and 1.0-1.99 – Third Class Honours.
While urging deans of faculties and heads of departments to ensure compliance and commencement of the new regulations with the intakes of 2016/2017 session, he added that no student whose CGPA is less than 1.0 shall be awarded a degree. He, however, said: “The old regulations remain applicable to students admitted before the 2016/2017 session.”
When several calls and text messages were put across to the NUC spokesperson, Mr. Ibrahim Usman Yakassai, he neither picked his calls nor replied to the text messages. Reacting to the development, the former NUC Executive Secretary, Professor Peter Okebukola said that the grade point range of one to five still subsists, adding that no grading system is superior to others globally.
Speaking with Vanguard yesterday, he said: ”Some people have very erroneous impression of how NUC works. The Commission does not dictatorially issue orders to universities on matters relating to minimum standards. The process of deriving and assuring such standards is consensual and democratic among the community of stakeholders in the university system. NUC only conveys the end-product of such collective decisions.
”I am aware, and just reconfirmed this morning (yesterday) that the process involving all stakeholders in deriving minimum standards has not changed and hence, the grade point range of 1 to 5 still subsists. The story about NUC ordering the upper limit of grade point average to change from 5 to 4 is “fake news” which Nigerians are urged to ignore. I am equally aware that the Executive Secretary, Professor Abubakar Rasheed has set in motion, the process for the massive overhaul of the curriculum and minimum standards of the Nigerian university system to reflect the emerging needs of Nigeria and international best practices.
International best practices
“Professor Rasheed is himself leading the process which will involve all stakeholders in the Nigerian university system and relevant others. It will not be a corner-side show as every Nigerian will hear about it at its different stages, via the media.
”I chair a global organisation on quality assurance in higher education and we respect diversities in grading systems across the world and depend on conversion tables to derive equivalence. There are 4-point, 5-point, 6-point, even 11-point grading systems. None is superior to others. The conversion table based on percentage score for the course is the leveller.
“The good news is that the world is moving slowly to having a harmonised system. The African Union is well on course to have the African Credit Transfer System within its higher education harmonisation agenda that will lead to a uniform grade-point system for the whole of the Africa region. Consultations are ongoing and we do not know at this stage if it will be 4-point, 5-point or anything else. I am sure that NUC being the leading national quality assurance agency in Africa, will take the lead in adopting the Africa regional model.”