From Rakiya A. Muhammad (Sokoto), Itodo Daniel Sule (Lokoja), Romoke W. Ahmad (Ilorin), Christiana T. Alabi (Kaduna), Dickson S. Adama (Jos) & Jeremiah Oke (Ibadan)
Heads of higher institutions have at a policy meeting with the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) agreed that 120 should be the minimum marks required for admission into universities for the 2017/18 academic session as against 180 marks obtainable in the previous session. Polytechnics and colleges of education were similarly allowed to place cut-off marks not below 100.
Also, institutions would conduct aptitude tests to ensure that candidates demonstrated academic ability to study any course they applied for.
However, university applicants and students are divided over the new decision, with some saying it was pointless and others seeing it as a step in the right direction.
An applicant, Elizabeth Adeyemi, who scored 246 points in this year’s UTME said JAMB’s decision of reducing the cut-off marks from 180 to 120 was ridiculous and uncalled for, adding that it would lead to a situation whereby those who worked hard to score higher points would be deprived of admission.
According to her, the 120 cut-off mark policy would encourage mediocrity and indolence amongst candidates in future UTME as many of such candidates would not study hard before sitting for the examination since they knew they only needed to score a paltry 120 marks out of 400 to be qualified for admission into the university.
A final year student of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Isa Ahmed, also said the policy would downgrade education and affect quality in institutions of higher learning.
He said the board ought to have put 150 as the agreed cut-off marks instead of 120 for universities.
However, another applicant, Amiru Aliyu Asada, said he scored 190 in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and welcomed the idea of 120 minimum marks because thousands of applicants got lower marks.
He however noted that universities would have diverse range of candidates to select from.
Similarly, some candidates who sat for the last UTME in Kwara State said the development would increase the chances of admission into higher institutions.
Miss Nafisat Raheem said the new policy had boosted her morale, especially with university admission growing more competitive each year.
“I believe they set the new marks because of candidates like me. This is my second attempt and I have less than 200 marks which really gave me sleepless nights but with the recent development, I am already preparing to go to the university,” she said.
In a different reaction, another student who also sat for the same examination in 2016 and has secured admission into a university, Ibrahim Sulaiman, said the decision wasn’t fair to candidates who studied hard to obtain higher scores, adding that candidates would not study well any longer.
In Kaduna, Olufunke Obafemi said the new minimum marks would give her a better chance of getting admission into the university to study Pharmacy. “I wrote the last UTME and I score 170 with which ordinarily, I may not be able to get admission to study pharmacy in the university but with this reduction, I am very excited,” she said.
A secondary school student, Halima Idris said she was discouraged with the development, saying many students will not work hard for the UTME.
A candidate who gave his name as Gideon described as ‘ridiculous’ the new minimum marks. “Although, I scored 211 in the recent UTME but I feel the marks are too poor for our educational system and it doesn’t speak well of our tertiary institutions.” he said.
In Jos, Ene Adaji, said she was excited about the new policy because it would enable candidates to get admission.
She said high cut-off point made JAMB exams and processes very stringent.
A candidate who simply identified herself as Mary said universities should respect the new admission benchmark.
A candidate in Ibadan, Jonathan Damola Adetayo who scored 147marks in UTME said he never believed JAMB could reduce the marks and that though it was in his favour, yet it was low.
Another applicant, Sola Peters who scored 228 marks said the policy would ‘surely’ affect the standard of education in Nigeria.
JAMB’s head of media, Dr. Fabian Benjamin, said the 120 minimum cut-off marks for university admission does not in any way suggest that once a candidate has 120, he would get admission. “Institutions will admit from the top to the least mark,” he stated.