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JAMB cracks down on underage admissions, warns universities

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Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, Registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), has issued a warning to universities and other tertiary institutions to cease the admission of underage students, labeling such practices as “illegal.”

Speaking at the opening of the seventh biennial conference of the Committee of Pro-Chancellors of State-Owned Universities in Nigeria, held on Tuesday in Lagos, Oloyede emphasized the need for institutions to adhere to legal age requirements for admissions. The theme of the conference was “Effective University Governance: Role of Stakeholders.”

Oloyede underscored the importance of accountability and integrity within the educational system, stating, “For the sake of accountability, data protection, and the integrity of the nation, this act needs to stop because anything that is irregular is illegal.”

He recounted a recent incident where an inquiry from a European country raised questions about the legitimacy of a 15-year-old’s university graduation in Nigeria. “I received a letter from a European country to confirm if a student actually graduated from a particular university because she is 15 years old and applied for a postgraduate course. They asked, ‘Is this possible in Nigeria?’ I had to call the Vice-Chancellor of the institution, and he confirmed the student graduated but was not admitted by JAMB,” Oloyede shared, adding that the Vice-Chancellor was not in office when the student was admitted.

Highlighting the prevalence of this issue, Oloyede noted that state-owned universities are particularly implicated due to their larger numbers compared to federal universities. “Illegal admission of diploma students also needs to stop. Last year, we admitted 9,000 diploma students; I was alarmed that about 3,000 came from a particular university. Everyone must be accountable because these acts can damage our education system,” he cautioned.

In his address, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, former Chief of Staff to the President, urged pro-chancellors to develop strategies to make state-owned universities as competent and attractive as their federal and private counterparts. Gambari advocated for institutions to carve out specific niches that would allow them to exploit comparative advantages and enhance their standings.

Sen. Joshua Lidani, Chairman of the Committee of Pro-Chancellors of State-Owned Universities (COPSUN), acknowledged the myriad challenges facing the tertiary education system, including corrupt practices, impersonation, inadequate funding, and the proliferation of universities. “The theme of this conference encompasses many issues related to governance in the university system,” Lidani stated, noting that the conference aims to raise public awareness of these challenges and propose solutions.

Lidani also highlighted the detrimental impact of frequent strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other labor unions on the stability, quality, and standards of education. “Incessant strike actions and the attendant consequences are symptomatic of the deep malaise affecting the system,” he said.

The conference, while not a panacea for all the issues plaguing the education sector, aims to provide a platform for stakeholders to discuss and strategize on ways to improve governance, standards, and quality in Nigeria’s tertiary education system. “I have no doubt that this conference can point the way forward and advise stakeholders on how to play a better and rightful role in uplifting the standards of education in the country,” Lidani concluded.

As the educational community continues to grapple with these pressing issues, the call for stringent adherence to legal admission procedures and overall improvement in governance remains paramount.

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