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Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board, JAMB, recently approved new baseline marks for entry into universities and other tertiary institutions in the country from the 2017/2018 academic session going forward. This followed the consensus reached by critical stakeholders in the sub-sector. In collaboration with the vice chancellors of public universities, visitors of private universities and other stakeholders, it was agreed that the cut-off marks for admission into universities, polytechnics and innovative enterprising institutes would now be 120, 100 and 110 marks respectively.

Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board, JAMB, recently approved new baseline marks for entry into universities and other tertiary institutions in the country from the 2017/2018 academic session going forward. This followed the consensus reached by critical stakeholders in the sub-sector. In collaboration with the vice chancellors of public universities, visitors of private universities and other stakeholders, it was agreed that the cut-off marks for admission into universities, polytechnics and innovative enterprising institutes would now be 120, 100 and 110 marks respectively.


It is our considered opinion that these marks would not augur for the nation's educational sector as it indulges laziness and discourages the spirit of hard work. We expect JAMB and the other decision makers to know this too well. In the light of the burning need to raise the standard of education in the country and as citadels of learning and research, the admission of quality students is pivotal to the churning out of crack professionals and quality manpower needed to drive the nation's growth and economy.
In the past, the minimum cut-off mark for admissions had remained 200, out of the maximum 400 marks obtainable in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME. It is therefore ridiculous that JAMB could allow the reduction of standards to this absurd level that has drawn sweeping condemnations from the public.
While the registrar, Prof Is'haq Oloyede, had explained that the board relied on the stakeholders' support before approving the mark, a vital segment of the population, among them parents, professionals and former Education ministers, Prof. Nora Obaji and Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili have maintained that it is “ridiculous and unacceptable.” Nigeria Moment is concerned that Oloyede had chosen to approve this unpopular decision to bring down the quality of education, at a time when the bar should be high to halt the falling standard. We see the new cut-off marks as capable of further compromising the quality of students who are admitted into these tertiary institutions, and ultimately the graduates who would come out of them.
This benchmark, which hovers between 25 to 30 per cent, is seen to be within the failure path, as 40 marks out of 100, is traditionally the minimum pass mark in the country's grading system. If therefore, what used to be an “F9” in public examinations is now being justified as a pass mark, it speaks volume of how much the country's education standard has fallen. JAMB, in its defence, had described the condemnations as unnecessary controversies, adding that Nigerians should be more concerned about addressing the flight of candidates to some glorified secondary schools in the name of foreign universities. We find this defence incomprehensible in the face of the daunting challenges facing the sector.
According to the board: “It is expedient to state that the worst admitted cut-off mark in a Nigerian institution is far better than allowing them to fly out to some of the institutions they are attending out there which we all know are nothing to be proud of.” Notwithstanding, some institutions, among them the University of Ibadan and various chapters of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU and Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP have rejected the benchmark. This goes to show that the vice chancellors did not consult their constituencies before supporting the decision. It is however heart-warming that JAMB has given the individual universities and polytechnics an opportunity to fix their own cut-off marks and also conduct post-examination screening to select the candidates of their choice.
Under the circumstance, we urge these institutions to use that window to redress this irregularity to save the quality of education from sliding further down the path of mediocrity. In the final analysis, universities and other institutions that leave their cut-off points high as before would be turning themselves into a brand whose products will be more valued in the labour market than those of schools which lowered the bar.

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