Adeyewa: Private varsities have carrying capacity, but plagued by low enrollment

Vice Chancellor of Redeemers University (RUN), Ede, Osun State, Prof. Debo Adeyewa,

• Extending Validity of UTME Results Is Crucial
• Provision Of Grants, Scholarships Will Boast Enrollment In Private Varsities

The Chairman, Association of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU), and Vice Chancellor, Redeemer’s University, Ede, Osun State, Prof. Debo Adeyewa, told UJUNWA ATUEYI, that preference for federal institutions, poor carrying capacity in the preferred institutions and disequilibrium in the cost of university education are among the major causes of admission crisis in the country.

Despite the efforts of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to reorder the admission process, placements in Nigerian universities is still not without hitches, why is it so?
We need to appreciate the innovative and pragmatic approaches adopted by JAMB so far. The observed hitches are part of the learning process. However, the main problem has to do with the fact that most candidates would like to get admission into federal universities whose capacity to absorb the numerous applicants is quite limited. There are still thousands who are still hoping against hope that they would be admitted into these public institutions this session. We will continue to experience these hitches until the apparent imbalance, the huge differential in cost is addressed.
If the UTME is still considered the most effective parameter for measuring success in entry qualification examination, why do candidates that scored stipulated cut-off marks still have issues gaining admission into universities?
Arising from the explanation given above, candidates that score stipulated cut-off marks will still have issues gaining admission into universities as long as over 90 per cent of these candidates converge on less than 25 per cent of the available institutions whose carrying capacities are much smaller. It therefore implies that JAMB score alone is not the only parameter for measuring success into public institutions. Apart from scoring the required cut-off mark, candidates still face hurdles such as state of origin. The odds favour those from educationally less developed states.  If you are from the other side of the pendulum, you will need to scale higher hurdles. Obviously, we need to design better parameters.

JAMB advised those who have gained admissions into various institutions, but unable to register, or those that were not admitted by January 25 to begin to make preparations for the 2018 UTME, what do you make of this advice?
This advice is appropriate. However, some private universities are still offering admission. These candidates should therefore avail themselves the opportunity for the 2017/2018 session. 

Steps were underway by the National Assembly to extend the validity of UTME results from one year to three years. Does the current situation not call for expedited action on the issue?
The issue of the extending the validity of UTME results is good, but won’t be a comprehensive solution. For instance, I can see candidates still retaking the UTME examination to improve on their previous scores and chances in an ever-increasing fervour.  The underlying issues of the imbalance in the cost of university education has to be addressed.

One of the major reasons that thousand of qualified candidates are being denied admission this academic session is lack of carrying capacity in institutions. What immediate or long-term steps should the Federal Government take to address this major problem?
The truth is that the real issue is beyond the carrying capacity. Federal Government cannot sustainably build enough universities or increase the capacity of federal universities to accommodate all qualified candidates. With the over 70 private universities available today, less than 10 per cent of the candidates opt for them due to cost. They have the necessary carrying capacity but low enrollment. 

One of the sustainable ways of addressing this is to provide grants or scholarships to empower the candidates to attend these institutions. TETFund or other educational interventions could be used for this. Subsidising fees for private universities is imperative. The cost of running private universities is quite high and no university charging below N600, 000 and N700, 000 can’t make any profit. Those in this category offering good services are actually subsidising the fees.

Syndicates are still heavily involved in admission racketeering, and most times always having their way.  Why is it so difficult to stamp out their activities?
Admission racketeering will continue as long as there is huge demand for scarce resources. Institutions should confront this menace with the required tenacity. Most times, there are inside collaborators. Parents and candidates should also avoid middlemen and suspicious websites.  

Admission processes in other climes may not be this chaotic, is it not time we borrow leaf from elsewhere so as to end this recurring vicious cycle?
True. In other climes, government provides support and encouragement for private institutions and students because they see education as a national priority for the development of the nation. Here, we only pay lip service to the importance of education while we treat private interventions as if they are only for profit and should not be supported.

In this article:
Debo Adeyewa
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