Controversy over JAMB’s New Admission Policy

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Dibu Ojerinde

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The federal government reverses the new admission policy of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board into the universities which sparked of a lot of controversy lately

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Aug 10, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT  |

THE federal government has ended the controversy trailing the decision of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, to post students rejected by some universities to other schools, on the account of not meeting the cut-off mark by their choice universities. The federal government, on Tuesday, July 28, reversed the decision allowing the status quo to remain.

The federal government’s action came in the wake of the public outcry against JAMB which stated that the new policy would enable it to reassign candidates who do not meet the cut-off marks of their first choice institutions to other needy institutions. Some candidates who applied to some universities had demonstrated against the idea which the JAMB said would assist it to reassign candidates to ensure they have better chances of securing admission into the university.

MacJohn ‎Nwaobiala‎, permanent secretary, Ministry of Education, disclosed this to State House correspondents on Tuesday, after briefing President Muhammadu Buhari of his ministry’s activities and challenges at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

By the decision the federal government, has thus, reversed the decision by the JAMB to allow candidates that applied to universities with surplus applicants for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations, UTME, to be reassigned to other universities with lower number of applicants than their capacities. ‎

The decision was prompted by several protests against this policy by concerned parents and students in some parts of the country. Some days ago, some candidates who chose the University of Lagos, Unilag, and their parents staged a peaceful protest in Lagos both at the Unilag and the federal high court, Lagos.

The board argued that the policy was meant to ensure that every candidate with a reasonable score of 180 and above was placed somewhere in an institution. In a statement issued by Fabian Benjamin, head of media, JAMB, the examination body said that the national cut-off marks of 180 for universities and 150 for polytechnics, colleges of education and innovative enterprise institutions in the 2015 UTME were benchmarks to set the tone for this year’s admission exercise.

It also added that the decision to have nationally-accepted cut-off marks was to serve as a guide and pruning mechanism to give the tertiary institutions qualitative and manageable candidates to choose from a pool of candidates desirous of tertiary education.

The statement read in part, “However, universities and other levels of tertiary institutions are at liberty to go higher. But not lower, depending on their peculiarities and the performance of candidates that choose them. Universities are centres of excellence anywhere in the world and ours should not be an exception. The policy witnessed in University of Lagos (250 cut off mark) is aimed at ensuring that our universities admit only the top best as done globally.

“JAMB is working round the clock to ensure that Nigerian universities are among the best in Africa and perhaps the world in the next ranking and to also utilise the available spaces and admit more candidates bearing in mind the admission criteria of various needy institution. The board wishes to state that no candidate would be denied any right to aspire to tertiary education, even as it is aware that some universities have their own admission cut-off marks acceptable by the board for courses they offered. Please be informed that the board ensures that these institutions apply this cut off marks uniformly across all candidates without discrimination.

“The decision of the Board on the print-out for this year exercise was done in good faith not to jeopardise the right of candidates due to individual cut-off set by some Nigerian tertiary institution. Those candidates who do not meet the cut-off marks of such institutions will be placed in needy institutions within their geopolitical zone depending on available space in such institutions.

“The board’s aim is to accommodate as many candidates as possible instead of just pushing them to schools we know some institutions doesn’t have the carrying capacity to admit all. For instance, University of Lagos with a carrying capacity of about 9,000, has over 60,000 applying. The question is what happens to the over 50,000? We have other institutions like that and what we are doing is to ensure that the balance is also placed in other needy institutions.”

The development prompted the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, University of Ibadan Chapter to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the alleged N1 billion expected to be generated from the sale of scratch cards to candidates seeking admission into tertiary institutions across the country.

While condemning the new policy imposed on candidates by the JAMB, the academic union claimed the scratch card is now being sold for N1,500 to each candidate seeking admission. Olusegun Ajiboye, chairman of branch, said the policy would be counter-productive, noting that it has made admission process chaotic and exposed candidates to fraudsters.

It insisted that JAMB should respect candidates’ preferences and choices for tertiary institutions and consider security of lives of candidates, cost, proximity, quality, and rights of the Nigerian child in arriving at any policy. The ASUU further described the policy as exploitative which allegedly amounted to abuse of the rights of the candidates.

It alleged that Dibu Ojerinde, registrar of the JAMB, was insensitive to the plights of the Nigerian masses comprising parents who had not paid for months by some governors but were now being forced to pay N1, 000 to know where their wards were reassigned against their choices.

In a bid to stop the JAMB from implementing its new policy, a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, on Monday, July 27, granted an application for the judicial review of the decision to stop some applicants from taking an entrance examination into the University of Lagos for this year’s admission. The applicants had headed for court alleging that Ojerinde had issued a directive stopping them from participating in the UNILAG’s post-UTME scheduled for August 12 and 13.

The applicants, through their lawyer, Kayode Idowu, also accused Ojerinde of ordering the removal of their names from the list of applicant’s eligible to sit for the UNILAG’s 2015 post-UTME and sending same to other institutions that they had not chosen.

The judge after hearing Idowu, granted the applicants an order to seek judicial review of the respondents’ decision. “It is in the interest of justice that the application is granted as prayed.”

Similarly, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, a civil society organisation, has asked the same court to reverse the cut-off point of 250 mark set by UNILAG to the 180 mark publicly announced by JAMB. The group, in a suit marked FHC/L/CS/1139/2015, filed on Monday, is seeking a declaration that by the upward review of the cut-off mark, the respondents had breached Section 5(1)(c)(iii) of the JAMB Act Cap 193 of the Laws of the Federation.

It said: “The provisions of Section 5(1)(c)(iii) of the JAMB Act are very clear and unambiguous. The letter and spirit of the provisions are to ensure that the preferences of candidates, in terms of the university they choose to attend, are sacrosanct. Even a contrary or adverse decision by individual university cannot override the decision made pursuant to the provisions of Section (5)1)(c)(iii).”

Nonetheless, the action of the federal government appears to have settled the matter for now.

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