Stakeholders in the education sector have described the recent lowering of cut off mark by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) for the 2022 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Exam (UTME) as “retrogressive and unhealthy”.
The stakeholders from the South East said this in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) while reacting to JAMB recent pronouncements on the 2022 cut off mark for tertiary institutions.
NAN reports that the 2022/2023 UTME cut-off mark for universities in Nigeria is 140 and above, for polytechnics and monotechnics is 120 and above and for colleges of education is 100 and above depending on the school of choice and course of study.
In Imo, an Assistant Lecturer at the Department of Biochemistry, Federal University of Technology Owerri, Mrs Ogedi Ugwu, said the continuous reduction of cut-off marks would lead to poor performance in tertiary education.
Ugwu said the UTME served as a tool to assess the preparedness of students for tertiary education.
She said their performance in basic subject areas would go a long way in identifying the courses they were best suited for and how well they would perform in those courses.
She noted that if the cut-off marks continued to reduce, the quality of undergraduates admitted to Nigerian tertiary institutions would be severely compromised.
“The UTME is a tool used to assess students’ preparedness for tertiary education through an average score in basic subjects areas.
“Therefore, if UTME cut-off mark continues to decrease, it will reduce the quality of undergraduates admitted to Nigerian universities.
“This will result in a poor learning outcome and performance in tertiary education,” she said.
Also contributing, Mr Cyril Ofoegbu of the Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam, described the downward trend in UTME cut-off marks as “appalling”.
Ofoegbu said this could further lead to the fall in standard of education in the country as it would discourage students from studying in preparedness for higher education.
“UTME started falling from 200, to 190, to 180, to 170, to 160 last year. This year, it went down to 140, and maybe next year, it will further go down to 130.
“Soon, you just simply buy form and then you get admitted, into the university.
“The National Universities Commission (NUC) should rather raise the standards above 200. Anyone who cannot attain the mark is not fit to study in the university,” Ofoegbu advised.
A University Lecturer in Enugu State, Prof. Christian Madu, also said the approved lower cut off marks for students seeking admission in Nigeria tertiary institutions would lower the standard of education in the country.
Madu, who is of the Environmental Management and Control Department, University of Nigeria said that the educational standard would be affected if something was not done to accommodate the students with low grade.
The don said that schools that had students with low grades could groom them, especially in the subject areas they did not do quite well in their UTME so as to be at par with those with high grade.
He said that if they were not groomed to meet up with the bright students, they might end up dropping from the institutions, especially after their first year in the institutions.
Mrs Jacintha Nweke, an educationist said that the government should allow individual tertiary institution to decide its cut off mark as this would make students who were preparing for UTME to sit up.
Nweke said that she was very sure that no university would adopt the cut off marks announced by the government, adding that it would further degrade the low standard of the Nigeria education system.
Prof Ifeanyichukwu Abada of the Department of Political Science, UNN, urged the Federal Government to act fast to improve funding and give required attention to education sector in the country.
He recalled that there was a time JAMB cut off mark for universities was 250 and today was lowered to 140.
“Instead of Education sector going forward, it is moving backward; it’s retrogressive, unfortunate and an unhealthy development.
“If nothing serious is done to arrest this ugly development in education sector, by the next three years, cut off mark for universities will be 80 and polytechnics 50,” he said.
Mr George Akubue, a Lecturer at the Institute of African Studies, UNN, said the development was a dangerous indication of serious decline in the standard of education.
“Federal, state and local governments should see this as a big challenge to improve funding of education in the three tiers of government before the situation gets out of hand,” he said.
In Anambra, Prof Anthony Eze of the Faculty of Education, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, said that efforts should be made at enhancing teaching to enable students meet up with the standard instead of lowering it to accommodate their capacity.
He said that rather than making university an all comers affair, those who lacked the intellectual capacity to access that level of education should be encouraged to go for vocational and other informal systems of education.
According to him, reducing cut off marks is ill advised, it will affect the standard of education adversely.
“There is no justification for lowering the cut off mark from between 250 and 300 to as low as 120; it signals a general drop in our university education standard.
“University is not for everybody, those who don’t have the capacity to meet up should be encouraged to go for vocational training,” he said.
Also speaking, Mrs Jane Nwoko, a parent and secondary school teacher said managers of the Nigerian education sector should not collapse the system because they wanted to accommodate everybody.
According to her, though it will help more students to gain admission into higher institutions, the implication is that the quality of learning and graduates will be reduced.
She called for better funding and supervision of post primary education to make them meet up with the curriculum.
A cross section of academics in Ebonyi, said that the adverse effect of continuous lowering of UTME cut-off mark into tertiary institutions would be devastating to education development of the country.
Mr Ejike Okoro, an educationist , said the NUC should introduce better things in the system rather than continuous lowering of the cut off mark.
“We are most worried towards standard of learning, structures, educational materials, libraries among others,” Okoro said.