Stakeholders highlight funding deficiency as cause for 20% UTME admission rate

Stakeholders have voiced worry regarding the limited capacity of public tertiary institutions, while private institutions struggle to meet admission quotas due to high tuition fees

This issue became evident this week when the Minister of Education, Prof. Mamman Tahir, disclosed that only 20 percent (380,000) of the more than 1.9 million candidates who took the ongoing 2024 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME may receive admission offers to universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education nationwide.

Though not new, the minister amplified the figure in Abuja while monitoring the ongoing UTME alongside the Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Ma­triculation Board, JAMB, Prof Ishaq Oloyede.

The examination commenced on April 19 and is expected to end on April 29, 2024.

The minister, in his comment on the limited spaces available for admission into the nation’s tertiary institutions, said skills acquisition remains a critical component in preparing the youths for a brighter future.

“It is not a question of being employed, but how many will be admitted from this set. Overall, I think the figure is about 20 per cent – universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education.

“The question you ask is where the 80 percent are? They are our children, our wards living with us.

“This is why the issue of skills acquisition is important because any student who is not able to pro­ceed to tertiary education should have a meaningful life even after secondary school, even primary education,” he had said.

Comrade Hassan Taiwo,  while reacting to the minis­ter’s statement said the Coordinator of the Ed­ucation Rights Congress, ERC, attributed the challenge as the retribution for successive govern­ment’s failure to adequately fund the sector and long negligence.

He said: “it is retribution for government failure to fund pub­lic education adequately and in­vest in the expansion of faculties in tertiary schools.

“Now, with the planned take-off of the student loan policy, funding to public education will be reduced even further.

“We demand proper funding of public education and demo­cratic management of schools as the panacea to inadequate admission space.”

READ ALSO:  President Tinubu approves four framework to enhance education sector

Peter Okebukola, Distinguished Pro­fessor of Science and Comput­er Education at the Lagos State University and a former Head, of Nigeria’s National Universities Commission, NUC, agrees that the size of the task facing the Ni­gerian government is huge.

“With more than two mil­lion candidates striving to fill about 750,000 available spaces in the universities, polytechnics and colleges of education, the challenge of opening the doors for more to enter the higher ed­ucation system and ensure that quality graduates come out of it in the face of resource handicaps is stark,” he said.

The Vice Chancellor of An­chor University, Lagos, Professor Oye Bandele, expressed worry at the revelation, saying the desire to admit more must not be at the detriment of quality training.

According to him, “It is nei­ther here nor there. On the part of the government, if they are concerned that only 20 percent can secure admission, will the government be ready to give the go-ahead for the universities to admit more amidst inadequate facilities?

“On the other side, many ex­isting universities do not have the resources to admit all or the capacity to enrol more than they accommodate.

“Will the government allow public and private universities to just populate the existing in­stitutions just to absorb other candidates who passed, but can­not gain admission for learning?

“Admitting more without adequate arrangements will put more pressure on existing facili­ties if institutions fail to increase their capacity.

“On the side of the institu­tions, they cannot just increase enrolment figures. The need to adequately train the student is paramount and not negotiable.”

He called on the government to increase the capacity of tech­nical institutions and skills train­ing centres to enroll more and make the centres more attractive to parents and candidates.

He added: “The government must be ready to pump more funds into the education system, put more attention to funding, and increase the infrastructure, and capacity of all levels of existing tertiary institutions.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *