Stakeholders have said lowering the cut-off marks for admission into higher institutions in Nigeria poses a threat to education in the country as it is a reflection of falling standard in the sector.
Examinations are a process of assessing the amount of learning an individual has achieved over a period of time. In many cases, it determines if students are qualified to proceed to another stage of learning. When required marks to move from one level to another are reduced, it implies the bar is being lowered.
This was why it came as a rude shock to many people when the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, announced last month that the minimum cut-off mark for university admission this year is 140, while that of polytechnics and colleges of education were pegged at 100.
The Registrar and Chief Executive of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Ishaq Oloyede, revealed after the policy meeting on admissions in Abuja that the implication of the resolution was that every institution had the right to fix its own cut-off mark, even up to 220.
Oloyede said only 378,639 of the 1,761,338 candidates who sat for the 2022 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) scored 200 and above (the previous cut-off mark).
“A total of 378,639 scored above 200; 520,596 scored 190 and above; 704,991 scored 180 and above; 934,103 scored 170 and above, while 1,192,057 scored 160 and above,” he said.
For the university admission year 2022/2023, JAMB drew the cut-off marks below what was usually obtainable. It set the benchmark at 140 for the universities.
A Senior Lecturer at Covenant University, Ota in Ogun State, Busayo Aderonmu sees the lowering of the bar as a bad omen for the education system.
She said: “If we look at the 140 cut-off mark, which is 35 percent of the total score on grade, it is F. A pass mark of E starts from 45 percent. This implies that we are devaluing the education standard by approving a 35 percent score for admission into tertiary institutions.
“This will water down our education, put more pressure on lecturers while trying to impart knowledge, and may also result in producing graduates that are not competent in handling economic issues because we may end up bringing down the pass mark for each course/subject when the students perform below expectation.”
Aderonmu, who noted that universities cannot cope with the existing backlogs, said COVID-19 had its effect on the education system, adding that the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities and other economic issues contributed to altering the school calendar.