Crashing of JAMB cut-off mark: Global varsities ranking in jeopardy

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• It’s License For Mediocrity —Kolo, Olukoju
• Could Have Detrimental Effect On Quality Of Graduates

Aggrieved Nigerians are still demanding reasons for the ridiculous lowering of this year’s cut-off mark approved by the Joint Admissions And Matriculation Board (JAMB) and stakeholders for admission into tertiary institutions in the country.

In the latest round, academics/administrators insist the development was amounts to granting official licenses to schools to crash standards in tertiary institutions, while others deplore the development, saying it would affect the country’s corporate brand as a nation, as well as further worsen Nigerian universities international ranking.

Specifically, former vice chancellor of Niger State-owned Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) University, Lapai, Niger State, Prof. Ibrahim Adamu Kolo, said since standards at all levels of education system are already deplorable, the crashing of cut-off marks is not defensible from educational assessment and evaluation perspectives, neither is there any empirical justification for the action. It only empowers tertiary institutions to have a field day admitting barely educated candidates, and makes mockery of the statutory responsibility of JAMB as the safety net for ensuring quality university and tertiary education.

He said: “Remember that 120 is just 30 per cent – a fail level cut off mark. It is worst for other tertiary institutions, especially colleges of education that are supposed to produce quality teachers, and yet which are now empowered to admit poor candidates with as poor as 100 (25 per cent) under the guise of ‘opening up the space.’ The reality is that a license has just been granted for worsening the already deplorable standard of admission requirements and poor quality of tertiary education in the country.”

Kolo, added: “I really have never heard of countries lowering cut-off marks to such arbitrarily failed levels. I only hope JAMB is not playing to the gallery for those who are making a case for the irrelevance of the body because the situation has already sent signals to the international tertiary education system that there is a basis to disregard degrees and certificates from Nigeria as being unworthy of their categorisations.”

For former vice chancellor of Caleb University, Prof. Ayodeji Olukoju, with the new cut-off mark, “quality is being sacrificed on the altar of expediency, and that is very sad. We are encouraging mediocrity and lowering standards.”

Olukoju, Fellow, Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL) continued: “My position is that tertiary education, especially at the university level, is for the talented tenth. This might sound elitist and condescending, but no country ever became great without creaming off the best to create an aristocracy of talent. Only the deep can call to the deep in a world of global competition.

“Others outside of the top class can find their career fulfillment at other levels of education and sectors, or develop themselves through distance learning at their own pace, while still contributing to the economy. This new policy creates the misleading impression that universities are remedial education centres, to bring weak and unqualified candidates up to university standards. In my opinion, universities are places where the untapped potential of good students are developed to achieve excellence.”

On the fate of Nigerian certificates in the international community, he said, “Nigerians excel once they leave our shores but they have to scale humiliating hurdles. Their certificates face a credibility crisis because of how we manage our domestic affairs. I imagine that our certificates will come under greater scrutiny, but the good candidates will still excel. But such a denigrating treatment will further erode our corporate brand as a nation.”

Vice Chancellor, Redeemer’s University, Ede, Osun State, Prof. Debo Adeyewa, is of the view that the ugly development has the potential to worsen the position of Nigerian universities in global ranking.

According to him: “Low entry marks could have a detrimental effect on the quality of our graduates. Research in the past has shown that the best performing group, in terms of consistency in performance during undergraduate period is the group in the range, 180-240. The other ranges 240 – 280, 280 – 320, and 320 and above are not as consistent in terms of performance during undergraduate study period. The study did not even consider scores lower than 180 because it was unthinkable.

“A low cut-off mark (120, which is 30 per cent of total score) of a university would eventually affect the quality of its products and such a university cannot be respected in the comity of universities. This could further lower our standing in the ranking of global universities. I strongly believe that no university should go below 180, which corresponds to 45 per cent of the total mark obtainable (400) in the Unified Tertiary and Matriculation Examination (UTME).

Immediate past vice chancellor of Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, Professor Isaac Uzoma Asuzu, wants candidates to be admitted into tertiary institutions to score a minimum of 50 per cent in university matriculation examinations, which translates to 200 out of a total of 400. This he said is because, “when students of low academic standing are admitted into institutions, they cannot follow up with lectures and end up cheating in order to pass. If they manage to go through the system by dubious means, they end up as poor quality graduates that cannot fit into the nation’s work force.”

Asuzu, said: “There seems to be confusion in our educational system. We tend to move one step forward and three steps backward due to our ever-changing policies. These changes portray us before the entire world as confused. Each university used to determine the modality for admitting students before the advent of JAMB. It is on record that the quality of graduates produced at that time was quite high. Our graduates were admitted into universities in Europe and America without going through pre-qualifying examinations. The standard was lowered when UTME became the sole mode for admission into tertiary institutions, not because UTME was in itself bad, but because students devised various methods of cheating in the examinations. This led to the hybrid of UTME and screening tests, which frankly, improved the quality of students admitted and the quality of graduates produced.

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