Many universities are still grappling with 2019 admission but JAMB is already talking about 2020 admission. Is the process not getting too fast-paced for the universities?
Rather than saying so, I will say what we are trying to do in JAMB is to standardise and normalise. I am more than three decades old in the university system, and therefore, I saw part of the good old days. To go into the university, the session of the university starts anytime from August 1 and it goes on to September, October, at worst, November, that was when almost all the institutions commenced their activities. But now, due to one form of disruption or the other, you now have a situation where academic calendar had been disrupted. So, what we have done particularly, since the establishment of the Central Admission Processing System (CAPS) is to make every university to work at the time that is scheduled for admission, even if you are unfortunate that your university is not starting on time, our recommendation is that you do your admission and then archive it for the time when your session will begin. Because we keep on improving, last year, there was disruption of academic programme, but this year, we thank God, there is no much disruption.
But when there is no much disruption, we have also done certain things that will not make the admission to go as fast it would. For instance, we have automated the process to make it mandatory for everybody to have full disclosure of what you are doing. For every course what are the requirements? You must specify! We have now input those qualifications into the system. If anybody does not meet your specified requirement, even if you recommend him/her, the system will reject it. That has now shown us clearly that some of the claims being made by the institutions are not generally being applied. This is because I have not less than 100 applications now for waivers. The complaint is that they cannot admit people because the rules that are put there are too strong. But I did not put the rules, they put them. They are rules that were selectively applied in the past. Since you have given us those as your rules, we have simply put them into the system. But the system prevents anybody you recommend that cannot meet the requirements! That is why there is now avalanche of requests for waivers. And that is why I am meeting, everyday, with heads of institutions. I now challenge them that you want waivers, but why did you prescribe those rules in the first place.
In the past, they would not need to write to us because they would waive for those they wanted. But now, the standard is there and it is one of those things slowing down the admission process.The second one is that we have also automated the CAPS in such a way that you cannot drop a person that is more qualified and pick a person that is less qualified. The system will not allow it to go, even if you compromise. You have to, at least, comply to 80 per cent of the rules before we can give you allowance for what we call 20 per cent exception mode.
For instance, in our regulations, there is no room for foreign candidates unless they come through merit and many of them may not come through merit. Exception mode has taken care of that. Also, there is the need to provide for the handicapped. They may not be the highest scoring, but those who manage to pass minimally, you want to take an affirmative action to admit them despite the fact that there are still other qualified persons. There are security people that must be in the classroom for monitoring of the system, they may not be on top of the class. Apart from that, we cannot also close our eyes to the fact that in the environment in which we are, there are also some people to which the institutions are indebted. When the head of security or state commissioner of police has a child who meets the requirement except that he is not on top, such discretion for the vice chancellors to admit the child comes under exception mode, otherwise, the day the students are protesting, such commissioner of police will look other away.
But what we are insisting on is, at least, 80 per cent of the rules must have been satisfied. And that is why you have many candidates falling into the hands of fraudsters. This is because many people believe that they will not be admitted unless they know people, but they are now being admitted without knowing anybody. They do not know that it is the system that is working, they are now allowing fraudsters to come in-between them and say they are the ones helping them! I have two examples to illustrate this – one bitter and one sweet. This year, many people thanked me, because their wards were admitted. But when they sent the applications to me, I looked at the requests and since I knew the system would make sure they are admitted, I did not do anything. I tell most of them that I did nothing; it was the system that threw their candidates up. The bitter one was an important person whose child was admitted on merit, but because he did not believe that the child would be admitted, he called to thank me. But I told him that I did nothing and I said it is because I knew that with the score of the child, that the child would go in and since then, the man felt so bad.
Also, a very important person in Abuja gave me two names recently, we were at a public meeting and I said please keep it to yourself because I know that the child with that score would be admitted. I wanted to test the system. I also knew he was educated enough to know about the system. A few days later, I asked him to give me the names of those boys to assist them, but at that time, he told me that they had been admitted. Those instances just confirmed that the system would make the good ones to be admitted. Those that may need assistance are the middle-levelled ones who are not eminently qualified and are at borderline. Already, we have decided to open a portal where we aggregate those candidates that scored 250 but are not admitted. If you score 250 and above and you are not admitted, we owe you a duty to tell you why you are not admitted, so that you do not fall into the hands of fraudsters. With technology, this administration has returned to the good old days where you do not need to know anybody before you are admitted.