Still on the Cut-Off Mark of 120 Out of 400 in UTME

The VC University of Ibadan, Prof Idowu Olayinka.
I watched a program on Sunrise on Channels TV on Friday 25 August 2017 on the trending topic of Cut Off for the 2017/2018 admission into our Universities. The point was made about what is the magic about a minimum mark of 120 out of 400. Why not even 40 out of 400? It seems we cannot run away from some threshold.
I do hope the decision to use a minimum cut off mark of 30% would be revisited someday. While it is good to deregulate the admission market, there should still be a benchmark below which no university should fall.
Moreover, it would be great to have a mechanism whereby our various universities can be differentiated using some objective criteria, including but not limited, to the quality of students admitted. On the average the Federal Universities are the most sought after and the most competitive. They are followed by the State Universities. On the other hand, the Private Universities are grossly under-subscribed. The cut off marks for each university should be published for information of the discerning public. The Grade A Universities can have 200/400 as Cut off; Grade B 180/400 and Grade C comprising the rest of the pack. Water will find its level. There is no point lumping all of us together. This would guide admission seekers, their parents and guardians, employers of labour and government (decision makers). This would encourage healthy competition and rivalry, as membership in a particular class would be dynamic.
The US has its Ivy League universities while in the U.K. they have the Russel Group.
In the current admission season, nearly 60,000 candidates picked Ibadan as their First Choice. Out of this, about 26,000 scored 200 marks and above. Only those candidates would be invited to write our Post UTME Screening Test. We are admitting just 3,200 students in the final analysis. There is no reason why we should not be able to find enough 3,200 good candidates to admit out of 26,000. Hence, we have no excuse reducing our cutoff. Reality is that for some courses like Medicine, Electrical Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Economics, and Law, it is highly unlikely for any candidate who scored less than 240 marks at the UTME to stand a good chance of securing admission here.
Most public examinations in Nigeria are compromised and lack integrity. This is the truth whether you are talking of JAMB, WAEC or NECO. Parents procure grades for their children and wards. For many parents and their children and wards, any thing is fair, not matter how fraudulent, in order to secure undue advantage over other candidates just to be admitted into universities.
We had a situation in which candidates who ‘scored’ very high marks in JAMB were being asked to withdraw in droves from the universities after the first year on account of poor academic performance. That was simply the reason why many universities clamoured for Post JAMB Screening.
The Federal Government acceded to this request in 2005, with Mrs Chinwe Obaji as the Honourable Minister of Education.
One can confirm that the quality of students admitted into UI has since improved drastically. The proportion of students advised to withdraw after the 100 level has dropped from an all time high of 13% in 2004 to 0% in 2015. When I shared this information with colleagues in South African universities they were impressed with the high quality of our students, thanks to the rigorous admission process involving Post UTME Screening.
As you will expect JAMB will always claim their exams are fool proof those of us who are in higher education management surely know better.
For us in UI, nothing has really changed. We are committed to sustaining the Ibadan Brand. We are already heavily oversubscribed. At least 26,000 candidates who picked us as first choice for the ongoing 2017/2018 admission exercise scored 200 and above in the UTME. We will hold our POST UTME in the second half of October and admit not more than 3,200 out of the lot so that we do not exceed our carrying capacity.
Prof. Idowu Olayinka
Vice Chancellor
University of Ibadan