The University of Ibadan, Covenant University, Obafemi Awolowo University, University of Nigeria, University of Lagos, University of Port Harcourt, Ahmadu Bello University, Federal University of Technology Akure, Landmark University, and Federal University of Technology Minna are the top 10 universities, according to the 2022 ranking of the National Universities Commission.
While the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has its cut-off marks for admission, many universities have their own benchmarks for admission-seekers.
For instance, in 2014, the University of Lagos (UNILAG) pegged its benchmark at 200 for admitting students in line with the JAMB cut-off mark. Anthonia Ochie, a law graduate of the institution, said she scored 268 in Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and 64.7 in Post-UTME to gain admission that year.
Michael Ibekwe, in 2015, scored 256 for a course in the faculty of arts at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, while the institution had 200 as its benchmark.
In 2016, Babajide Pelumi was admitted to the University of Ilorin with a score of 246 against the institution’s benchmark of 180, and JAMB’s 160. He also scored 65 in Post-UTME while the school required 50 marks to gain admission.
The Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, in 2017, had its benchmark at 200, while JAMB was 180. Joshua Adebayo, a graduate of Economics, scored 250 to gain admission.
Precious Ogbonna, in 2020, was given admission at Covenant University with a JAMB score of 239 to study Industrial Physics, while the school had 180 and JAMB 160 as benchmarks respectively.
“The Covenant University had its Post-UTME at 30, which I also beat to be admitted into the department of Industrial Physics,” he said.
The trend obviously points to the fact that the various universities are yet to accept the benchmark, even though they are set by stakeholders in the tertiary institutions and education shareholders.
Perhaps that gave rise to the views of Jeremiah Ojediran, vice-chancellor of the Bells University of Technology, that lowering UTME cut-off marks would create a level playing ground for students seeking admission as against the popular views that it is a sign of standard decline in the country’s tertiary education.
Ojediran noted that the continuous lowering of UTME cut-off marks would not affect the standard of education.
“What really matters is the West Africa Examinations Council (WAEC) results when it comes to the standard of admission,” he said.
Fabian Benjamin, head of public relations and media at JAMB, said: “The UTME is a ranking examination which was introduced by the board to create fairness and equity, as we have enough space for contenders. If we have a more acceptable means of selection, we won’t be conducting the examination.”
Read also: Reps move to make JAMB result valid for 4yrs
Friday Erhabor, a public affairs analyst, did not see anything wrong with JAMB setting benchmarks for schools because, according to him, it is just a guide to ensure the system is not polluted.
He said: “There is nothing wrong with what JAMB has done. UTME as an entrance examination is only a revalidation examination. Once a student has made his five credits including English and Mathematics as the case may be, such a person is qualified to access tertiary education.
“The JAMB examination is only a validation. There has been an instance before where students that failed to get 200 in JAMB and are denied admission travelled to Ghana and were offered admission and they ended up excelling.”
However, Tonia Umeha, a civil servant, said the trend of lowering the benchmark almost does not speak well of the country’s education standard.
“We are destroying our education system by adopting this sloppy approach. It means we are academically backward. There should be no room for laziness. Standard is key to achieving academic excellence,” she said.
Philipa Idogho, a lecturer in the department of education management at the University of Abuja, said that “only about 5.2 percent to 15.3 percent of undergraduate applicants get admitted every year.”
“This implies that 84.7 percent to 94.8 percent of candidates are not able to obtain university seats even if qualified. Usually, most public universities in Nigeria have more student applicants than they can admit in any given academic year.”
Prior to the establishment of JAMB for the admission of students into various universities, universities were conducting their own admission exercises.
However, this approach to absorbing students into the university system was marred by complaints that the admission process was not ideal and that there were a lot of challenges such as the issue of multiple applications and admissions, an uncoordinated system of university admissions, and high-cost implication for the candidates.
Hence, in 1978, JAMB was established to harmonise and conduct entrance examinations into universities in Nigeria.
UTME was introduced to bring the polytechnics, colleges of education, and universities together and save students the challenges of writing many entrance examinations in one academic session.