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JAMB and quest to end admission fraud in varsities

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Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, JAMB Registrar

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) last week accused University of Abuja (UNIABUJA) and other unnamed institutions of offering illegal admissions to some candidates, warning that the examination body would reject any exercise done in contravention of its Central Admissions Processing System (CAPS).

CAPS is a platform created to ensure quality control, transparency and credibility of admission process. It is expected to make provision for a “market place” on JAMB portal, where institutions can go and request for students who scored above their cut off points.

The system is such that institutions can only admit those who meet their cut off points. If a candidate fails to meet the cut-off mark for a chosen course, that student would be denied admission.

JAMB’s Head of Public Affairs and Protocols, Dr. Fabian Benjamin, said any admission done outside CAPS was an illegitimate admission. Citing University of Abuja as an example, Benjamin said the institution, alongside others are issuing admission letters to candidates without recourse to the Board.

The JAMB spokesman maintained that admissions that have not been proposed, approved or accepted on CAPS are null and void, adding that asking candidates to pay acceptance fees for such admissions amounted to illegality.

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By implication, Benjamin clarified that any candidate who has not accepted and printed his or her admissions letter on CAPS should not pay acceptance fee, as any admission done outside CAPS is an illegitimate one and would not be sanctioned by JAMB.

“To circumvent rights of candidates, institutions are now using their own portals to unlawfully persuade and pressurise candidates to accept another course and then make a change of course on JAMB portal to the new course supposedly offered on their own portal. These tricks are improper and should be disregarded by candidates.

To make matters worse, the board said: “Any candidate who accepts such offer of admission, made outside CAPS, does so at his or her own risk, as there shall be no regularisation of any irregular admission.

“Candidates are advised, in their own interest, not to accept such admissions done outside the purview of JAMB nor pay any acceptance fee as such admissions will never be allowed to stand,” Benjamin added.

Not only that, such candidates would not be allowed to enrol for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme as they would not be deemed to be students.

But some institutions still boycott this directive and issue admissions to candidates through their portals.

For instance, in 2019, seven schools were listed for violating JAMB admission process. The universities were said to have used their portals to violate admission process in the 2019 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).

The board accused the seven universities of “warehousing candidates into institutions’ portals.” Warehousing means when a candidate’s name is not on CAPS but the institution still goes ahead to admit them through its web portal.

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The institutions included Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba (AAUA); University of Nigeria (UNN), Nsukka; Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta; University of Ibadan; Air Force Institute of Technology, Kaduna; Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and Nigeria Police Academy, Wudil.

For AAUA, the body cited an example of a candidate who applied to study Law with 280 marks to the University of Benin (UNIBEN), but was later offered Law at Adekunle Ajasin University.

“A candidate not available at all in CAPS under AAUA but now offered admission and acceptance fee paid cannot be properly admitted into AAUA,” the board said.

The body also said UNN has a quota of 200 to admit students to study Medicine.
“After admitting 106 on CAPS, the institution released an additional 448 names on its portal, whereas there were 342 qualified but unadmitted on CAPS,” the board said.

Also for Law, JAMB said the university violated the admission process.
“The quota for Law is 250. The university admitted 125 on CAPS. The university then released another 240 on its portal.”

For Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, the board said the institution did not admit a single candidate on CAPS.

“MAPOLY admitted over 10,795 and went on to receive acceptance fee from 5,950 candidates not yet proposed to JAMB. MAPOLY also claimed its quota is 12,587,” the board said.

The board said a candidate who applied to the University of Ibadan got Economics on CAPS “but changed to Adult Education on the university portal”.

The regulatory body also complained that another candidate who applied for human nutrition and scored 242 in UTME, 72 in Post-UTME with an aggregate score of 66.25 was transferred to study agricultural extension.

“University then admitted people below her into Human Nutrition,” JAMB said.

The board also said a candidate who applied for Cyber security at Airforce Institute of Technology, was moved to Physics on the school portal.

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“He innocently changed his programme to Physics whereas he is qualified for Cyber security,” JAMB said.

For Ahmadu Bello University, the board said a candidate who scored 302 and was qualified to study Medicine claimed: “to be persuaded to change to Anatomy on the university portal.”

It further alleged that the Nigeria Police Academy “changed programme of candidates through its portal without the consent of candidates, admitted candidates who were already admitted genuinely into other institutions through CAPS and could not upload them on CAPS again.”

But the management of UNIABUJA insisted that JAMB lacks constitutional powers to meddle in admission of new students into universities.

Quoting relevant constitutional provisions guiding operations of university education, UNIABUJA, in a statement by its Head of Information, Dr. Habib Yakoob, maintained that it was not out of place for it to conduct admissions without JAMB’s input.

Citing the Universities Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Act 2003 (7) (a) (ii), which states that the Senate shall have powers in all academic matters, including organisation and control, teaching and research as well as admission of students, UNIABUJA management said the school and not any external body, is guaranteed the power of admissions.

The statement read in part: “The University of Abuja has been constrained to respond to reports that JAMB has named the university among others as being engaged in ‘illegal admissions’ because it failed to upload the list of its admission on CAPS.

“UNIABUJA categorically states that it has not conducted any illegal admissions, and has nothing to hide as far as its admission exercise is concerned. It makes bold to state that, at the moment, the university has one of the best and most transparent systems of admission in the country.

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“This, indeed, is the only federal university, which catchment area is the whole of Nigeria, and truly and practically admits from all states of the country, while simultaneously upholding the principle of merit and excellence.”

This alleged violation, attracted the attention of the board, which warned that any candidate, who accepts admission not conducted through CAPS from any institution, would risk not being mobilised for NYSC upon graduation.

In this era of forgery and falsification, the board also cautioned candidates not to accept any offer of admission not printed on its official letter headed paper, as they might pay dearly for it at the end of their studies.

This directive, however, has generated hues and cries from educationists, who described the verdict as too “extreme.”

Though they lauded the board’s efforts at sanitising the process of entry into institutions of higher learning, they pointed out that the approach concerning penalising infractions should be harmonised.

Rather than punish and frustrate students after a four, five or six years academic journey, depending on course of study, stakeholders insisted that JAMB must find a way of detecting such wrongdoings as well as penalise institutions and individuals involved in it.

They also suggested that the board can arrest the situation by linking its portal with all the institutions’ portals, to enable the body get prompt response from every of their deeds.

Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies, Federal University, Otuoke, Imoh Ussien, said rather than sanctioning students, the schools should actually be the ones to blame.

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“One would have expected JAMB to come up with sanctions against the institutions, punishing students is like destroying a generation Nigeria needs for promoting sustainable development. If the students are asked to go back to another round of admission, I don’t see that as a wise decision. So, my recommendation is that institutions should be sanctioned, not students,” he said.

Also, pro-chancellor and chairman, governing council, Chrisland University, Prof. Ayodeji Olukoju, said while supporting efforts to curb forgery or any form of violation of admission process, punishing innocent students is wrong.

He said: “A lot of these candidates who are so determined and focused on gaining admission might not even know they are carrying a dead letter.”

For vice chancellors being accused of engaging in admission racketeering, Olukoju said: “let us make allowance for mistakes and human error, asides that, if there was a racket, people caught should be punished. But then, the question is, how do you punish someone who is probably out of the system or who has retired? My concern is that they should be careful not to punish the innocent with the guilty. But if there are proven cases of fraud or racketeering, surely the law must take its full course.”

Former Vice Chancellor, Bells University of Technology, Ogun State, Prof. Isaac Adeyemi, said while it is good to monitor the process of admissions in various institutions, the board should deploy technology in doing so.

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