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The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has denied the allegation that its plan to reduce cut-off points for admission into tertiary institutions is meant to favour certain parts of the country, especially areas where candidates have problem of scoring low marks.
The minimum cut-off mark for admissions into universities in Nigeria was set for 140, while 100 was pegged for polytechnics, innovative enterprising institutes and colleges of education. These decisions were taken at the 2018 combined policy meetings on admissions into tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
JAMB is being accused of lowering the marks for candidates from the north, but the examination body claims the policy is more favourable to candidates and institutions in the southern part of the country.
“It is not true that the policy was introduced to favour the educationally less disadvantage states. For instance, the cut-of mark for medicine in Obafemi Awolowo University is 200, but that Bayero University, Kano is 250. The policy favours the universities in the southern part of the country and the statistics are there for everyone to check,” JAMB Public Relations Officer, Fabian Benjamin, disclosed in an interview with The Guardian in Abuja.
Benjamin allayed the fear of Nigerians insinuating that the reduction of cut-off marks is an indication of failure in Nigeria’s education sector.
“It will be wrong for anybody to say that the cut-off point for an examination that is conducted for candidates determines the standard of education. Contrary to the complaints of some stakeholders, JAMB does not compel higher institutions to admit candidates with the seemingly ridiculous cut-off mark.
“It was only agreed by stakeholders to provide institutions with a benchmark, universities could raise the marks above 140 but not more than 200,” he said.
Benjamin revealed that 90 per cent of universities in Nigeria did not admit students who scored less than 180 in 2017, adding that many institutions adopted 200 as their cut off marks.
“We did an analysis of last year’s admission, and we discovered that out of 1.8 million candidates that sat for the exam, only about 800,000 had what it would take them to be admitted into tertiary institution in Nigeria.”
The JAMB spokesman maintained that the candidates that the universities, polytechnics and colleges of education can consider for admission.
“We decided to liberalise the process because we discovered that spaces that people are saying are not enough were actually not being utilised.
“People are complaining that the government did not crate enough access, but with the 2017 admission, there are spaces that are yet to be occupied in the country.
“Every student in Nigeria wants to study law, accounting and medicine. Except we want to convert all the universities in Nigeria to those offering law and medicine alone. Because there are candidates that do not want to study any other course except medicine, they are prepared to sit for JAMB three times, and the society will think JAMB has refused to offer them admission or there is no space for them to be admitted,” Benjamin explained.