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Dealing with overlapping responsibilities between ASUU, varsity senates

By Adelowo Adebumiti
07 April 2022   |   4:02 am
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) recently expressed dissatisfaction with the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) over what it termed its ‘meddlesomeness’ in admission processes...

Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, JAMB Registrar

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) recently expressed dissatisfaction with the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) over what it termed its ‘meddlesomeness’ in admission processes and regulation of academic activities. The body maintained that the action negates the principle of university autonomy.

ASUU National President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, said only Senate of universities is legally empowered to meddle in admission processes.

Osodeke pointed out that the examination body was established to conduct matriculation examinations for admissions into tertiary institutions and dissemination of information on all matters relating to such, while it is the prerogative of each university senate to superintend all academic matters in the institutions.

“These include setting admission requirements and approval of university undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. JAMB has no powers to decide qualification for admission and does not have powers to give admission or delist programmes of universities. At best, JAMB is an examination body and clearing house for admission. Giving admission to candidates is the duty of the senate, while accreditation of programmes is the prerogative of the National Universities Commission.”

The ASUU chief also faulted the examination body on fees being charged candidates for Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) to ‘impress’ the Federal Government, stressing that JAMB is not a revenue generation agency.

ASUU called on the body and it’s registrar to desist from overstepping its original mandate and allow universities to decide admission policies and processes.

Speaking on the issues raised by ASUU, stakeholders in the sector said there are areas of overlap and JAMB needs to revisit its mandate and retrace its steps on the admission process.

Education consultant, Julius Opara, noted that JAMB was established through a legal instrument promulgated by the Act (No. 2 of 1978) of the Federal Military Government on February 13, 1978. By August 1988, the Federal Executive Council amended Decree No. 2 of 1978.

“The amendments have since been codified into Decree No. 33 of 1989, which took effect from December 7, 1989. Decree No. 2 of 1978 (amended by Decree No. 33 of 1989) empowered the Board to conduct matriculation examination for entry into all universities, polytechnics and colleges of education, appoint examiners, moderators, invigilators, members of the subject panels and committees and other persons with respect to matriculation examinations and any other matter incidental thereto or connected therewith, and lastly, to place suitably qualified candidates in the tertiary institutions after having taken into account the vacancies available in each tertiary institution, the guidelines approved for each tertiary institution, candidates preferences for institutions and courses, among other admission information dissemination related duties,” he said.

According to him, any other action or operation by JAMB outside its mandate is a clear case of the board stepping out of its jurisdiction.

Opara noted that ASUU has every right as a pressure group to call to order or bring to the notice of Nigerians, activities that clearly showed that JAMB is overstepping its bounds.

“It is expected that JAMB, Senate of tertiary institutions, ministry of education and other tertiary institution admission committees should take a closer look at their operations and activities to be sure that they conform with the mandate establishing the bodies to avoid overstepping of bound, meddlesomeness or encroaching into unapproved areas of operation,” he advised.

Prof Samuel Odewumi, School of Transport and Logistics, Lagos State University (LASU), said while ASUU is not opposed to JAMB conducting central exams, the examination body is gradually taking over autonomy of the institutions by usurping some admission policy matters.

He said: “The Senate’s policy jurisdiction includes determining the quota allocated to each subhead. For federal universities, this includes educationally disadvantaged and catchment areas. While this may be tolerable by the federal universities, the Senate and proprietary policy and guidelines are different for state universities. For example, LASU has no catchment area or educationally disadvantaged quota, but state indigeneship quota. It also has Stream 1 and the Stream 2, which is degree with entrepreneurial certificate.

“Another major policy conflict area is the percentage of Direct Entry (DE) to UTME. Presently, it is 10 per cent for DE and 90 per cent for UTME. But many universities are running programmes like JUPEB and Pre-Degree Diplomas, which help in augmenting internally generated revenue of the institutions. So, they will prefer to admit candidates that pay higher fees.

“Besides, the income generated from sales of JAMB forms should be part of IGR of universities, but the examination body is collecting it and returning same to the Federal Government that is not adequately funding the institutions.

“Besides, the Federal Government had directed the institutions not to charge above a specific amount for post-UTME screening of candidates, thereby depriving the universities a veritable source of internally generated revenue.

Dean, Faculty of Education, LASU, Prof. Tunde Owolabi, said going by the statutory function of JAMB, the body has the responsibility of ensuring uniform standard in the conduct of examination and placement of suitable candidates into universities.

Owolabi said: “The Senate of the university is equally saddled with all matters relating to academics, including approval of courses and syllabuses, admission and progress of students through examination, as well as award of degrees and other qualifications.”

He said the argument ensued because of the overlapping responsibilities between JAMB and Senate of universities.
Owolabi said the actual implementation of the admission process has taken cognisance of the overlap, as JAMB only coordinates and regulates admission process.

He said: “Usually, vice chancellors are present at the point of taking decisions about the benchmark for eligibility screening cut-off. This is the threshold below which no university can admit students. Thereafter, the university decides on its admission screening cut-off. The process of admission is carried out by individual university and forwarded to JAMB to publish. The examination body coordinates admission and disseminates information to successful candidates. This is part of the mandate given to JAMB in the extant law; whose responsibility is to ensure that universities keep to their carrying capacity and other policies stipulated by the National Universities Commission (NUC).”

Education Administrator, Adeyemi Federal University of Education, Ondo, Emmanuel Taiwo Akinola, said JAMB organises policy meetings to determine what institutions think they could accept for admissions in a particular year.

“JAMB looks at submission of all categories of tertiary institutions to decide the benchmark for admissions into these institutions. With this, the body is helping candidates not to be cheated by not missing admissions. He noted that educational policies should be well spelt out to avoid conflicting interests.

“Collaboration between JAMB as a regulatory and supervisory body on admission and universities should be cemented by making the boundaries clear to avoid clashes. With this, Senate of universities have power to superintend over all academic matters, including setting admission requirements and approval. NUC, being the regulatory body for universities, checks activities of universities and takes decisions, while JAMB’s role is merely complimentary.

“All government educational agencies should operate within their mandates to avoid conflicts. It is obvious that government does not fund tertiary institutions adequately, making universities see admission processes as means of revenue generation, which JAMB is opposing. A clear separation of operational powers is required between JAMB and senate of universities,” Akinola added.

When contacted, JAMB’s spokesperson, Dr Fabian Benjamin, declined comments saying questions about powers and functions of the examination body have been addressed.

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