Students in tears after post-UTME

Over 34,000 students that wrote the recent Post-Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka (UNIZIK) went home crestfallen. The computer-based test deflated their hopes, as they answered 20 questions unrelated to their preferred courses in 10 ticking minutes. To nail their dream of admission, UNIZIK can barely a handful of the overwhelming number.
It is the same sad story at the University of Ibadan, where 30,000 applicants had to fight for only 3,500 admission spaces. Lesser number would make the admission list of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) out of the 30,000 applicants. At the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta (FUNAAB), only 3500 would be admitted out of the 12,500 applicants. The University of Lagos decisively sat on the information about the number of applicants and the spaces available, perhaps, to stave off further public outcry to its already sullied image.
In fact, over one million candidates fight for less than 500,000 spaces in Nigeria’s higher institutions yearly. In 2014, the JAMB Registrar, Prof Dibu Ojerinde, stated that only 35 per cent of the 1,735,892 candidates that wrote the UTME in 2013 were admitted. Many are called, but few are chosen has become a popular cliché describing this unfortunate situation.
With tears in her eyes, an agitated student that participated in the post UTME organized by the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, who gave her name as Ifedi, said they had 10 minutes to answer 20 questions. She said the test was compounded by technical hitches, as some of the computers went off before the time.
Ifedi, who had 240 in her UME, said she was on the third question when the invigilator announced that they had six minutes left.
“People cried out in the hall. I started punching answers without reading the questions. How can I answer 20 questions in different subjects, unrelated to my preferred course of study in 10 minutes?” she wondered.
Other candidates that spoke with Campus Sun bemoaned their sad fate, while revealing how some of their colleagues lost their belongings, including phones, wrist -watches and even shoes.
One of the candidates, Emeka Okoro, who spoke to this reporter, described the situation as chaotic. In his words, “I’ve heard so much about this institution and this is too degrading compared to what I heard. Can you imagine that we came here around 8am, we stood in the rain for several hours? The process is just too slow and the university management should find a way to accommodate this large number”, he said.
Another candidate, Miss Chekwube Eze, who was among the first batch that wrote the exam, said they had little time for the test. Another candidate said she was on the seventh question when the computer she was using logged her out.
Some of the students told Campus Sun that the test lacked credibility because wrong questions were shuffled for them for different courses. For instance, a candidate that applied for Igbo Education wrote Mathematics in the test, while another that applied for Law had Biology questions to answer. One of the candidates, who gave his name as James, said he applied for Law but was shocked to see Mathematics and Biology questions. Another candidate, who applied for Law, said he had to contend with Chemistry questions, which were different from the English, Literature, Government and CRS that other candidates answered.
Campus Sun learnt that it was also a hectic day for the Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Joseph Ahaneku, as he spent the day monitoring the exercise. He said some candidates who came for the exercise were not qualified and the university authorities took time in fishing them out. He expressed worries over computer illiteracy level among some of the candidates, noting that it shows that some of them did not write JAMB themselves.
The management through the Director of Information and Public Relations, Dr. Emmanuel Ojukwu, later released a statement on the university’s official Facebook page apologizing for some adjustments made during the test.
“These adjustments have been made in the interest of the candidates. However, the university regrets any inconvenience the adjustments will cause our highly valued candidates,” he said.
Ojukwu alleged that a syndicate was bent on undermining the process because of the stiff measures the university introduced to weed out impersonators.
“These measures include that candidates must be processed by thumb printing and checking of relevant documents. Those who were opposed to these processes for selfish reasons were quick to criticize the university forgetting that due process is an integral part of integrity. For those from far places who do not have a place to stay, the Vice –Chancellor graciously directed that the hostels, both male and female, should be made available to such candidates,” he stated.
On the health crisis recorded during the exercise, Ojukwu said, “Yes, some candidates had health issues unrelated to the screening. For instance, an asthmatic patient did not come with her inhaler but the university medical team successfully revived her. Another girl was hungry and fainted. The medical team revived her and fed her with rice and she regained her energy. The other one was pregnant and showed signs of fatigue. She was assisted and regained her energy. Two others had road accidents on their way to the university and we treated, discharged them and they still took part in the screening test. One serious case was a girl who had bone fracture due to an accident around Bauchi on her way to the university”.
The PRO also revealed that 135 impersonators were caught and were being interrogated by security agencies, promising that they would be charged to court soon. “We noticed that due to stringent processes deployed by the university, many fraudulent candidates did not turn up for the screening to avoid being detected. The university’s newly acquired biometric data capturing machines were fully deployed where candidates’ fingerprints were matched with what we already had on our database. There is also physical verification of claimed documents”, he said.
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) at the 2015 Policy Committee meeting with all heads of tertiary education and other stakeholders agreed on the 2015 cut-off marks for degree and non degree awarding programmes. The meeting adopted the last year cut-off marks of 180 for universities and 150 for polytechnics, colleges of education and innovative enterprises institutions for 2014/2015 admissions exercise but the institutions are at liberty to go higher depending on the course and their peculiarities.

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