The term ‘admission cut-off mark’ has been a trending and disturbing topic to students and aspirants of tertiary institutions, especially now, following the release of the official cut-off marks for admission into tertiary institutions by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB). A lot of candidates seeking admissions into various schools find it confusing on the exact cut-off mark really required for admission.
This could be because, in the past, some institutions tend to either increase or in some rare cases, reduce the cut-off mark set by JAMB for the admission process. Why is this done? What are the differences between the cut-off mark set by JAMB, the institution, and even the department you are seeking admission into? All of these will be explained below.
First, let’s start with the JAMB Admission Cut-off Mark.
The Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) is a Nigerian entrance examination board for tertiary-level institutions. The board conducts an entrance Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination popularly abbreviated as UTME for prospective undergraduates into Nigerian public and private universities, monotechnics, polytechnics, colleges of educations and innovative institutes.
Candidates seeking admission into any tertiary institution must have obtained the West Africa School Certificate, now West African Examinations Council (WAEC) or its equivalent, National Examination Council (Nigeria), NECO, or even the National Business and Technical Examination Board (NABTEB), which will qualify them to sit for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).
Just like any other examination, there’s always an average point, grade, or mark that will determine if a candidate passed or failed the examination, and that’s what exactly the board does.
Every year, the board (JAMB) would sit with Ministry of Education, Vice-Chancellors, Rectors, and Provosts of various tertiary institutions and other stakeholders in the educational sector at the JAMB Policy Meeting to decide on the particular point, mark or score a candidate would attain to qualify him or her for admission into a particular institution.
Just like most countries, there’s always this dichotomy between universities, polytechnics, and colleges. Nigeria is no exception, and the case might even be worse here due to the fact that graduates of universities tend to get better jobs and better pays when compared to their counterparts.
This has made the universities a more preferred choice in the eyes of most, if not all the students of the country, which is very wrong. And this is because the universities cannot accommodate all the students in the country.
This is the very reason why the universities always have a higher cut-off mark, than its other counterparts. The polytechnics is most times the second option for most students that could not score the cut-off mark set for the universities, followed by colleges then lastly, the innovative institutes.
The JAMB cut-off mark does not only serve as the benched mark for admission but it also equally ‘dispatches’ students equally to other institutions they might not intend to go in the first place. This is a good thing, as it reduces the pressure on some tertiary institutions.
JAMB admission cut-off mark is the general cut-off mark that qualifies a candidate into universities, polytechnics, colleges, and innovative institutes.
Secondly, let’s move to the School or Institutional Admission Cut-off Mark.
Over the years, certain institutions do have a higher number of applications from candidates seeking admission than others. This could be because of their affordability, reputation, facilities amongst other criteria. Public institutions for one tend to always have a vast number of applicants.
Most times, these candidates usually beat the cut-off mark set by JAMB. We are talking about institutions that have nothing less than 4,000 – 10,000 admission slots (in the case of universities). The applicants on the other hand might be up to 40,000 – 100,000+ in most cases.
The institution is this case cannot admit all these candidates simply because they scored exactly or above the cut-off mark set by JAMB. This forces them to use other forms of assessment such as a School or Institutional Cut-off Mark.
For instance, let’s say the cut-off mark set by JAMB for a particular year is 160; an institution like the University of Lagos (UNILAG) with over 80,000+ applicants might raise or increased its own cut-off mark to 200. This new cut-off mark would be what will qualify candidates to participate in its Post-UTME screening exercise.
But for some less competitive universities, they might just go with JAMB cut-off mark as the School cut-off mark. In some rare cases, the institution might even reduce the cut-off mark into interest candidates who could not get admission into their dream school or those who could not score the required cut-off mark.
Lastly, let’s talk on the Departmental Admission Cut-off Mark.
In a particular institution, you’ll find the number of applicants on a particular course in a department to be twice, thrice, or even more that of other departments.
For instance, courses and departments like Medicine and Surgery, Law and Engineering usually have more applicants compared to other courses like Fishery, Anatomy, and Biochemistry, etc.
Each department or course always has a specific number of students they can admit for a year, let’s take 100 for instance. An institution has a space of just 100 students in the Department of Medicine and Surgery and you’ll find over 3,000+ students fighting for this slot. The institution will be forced to raise its cut-off mark to drastically reduce the candidates.
Still on using UNILAG as an example: recall that JAMB set 160 as a cut-off mark (note: this is just for an example), the university increased its school cut-off mark to 200, but with over 3,000+ applicants for a course like Medicine and Surgery, the university would be forced to increase the cut-off mark for that particular department to 280 or more.
The aim of all these cut-off marks are meant to filter the best out of the best and drastically reduce the number of applicants in a particular course, department, or institution.
Getting admission into a tertiary institution in Nigeria is a really a “Survival of the fittest” challenge, but you should note, these cut-off points are not meant to scare you, they are meant to be a target you must overcome to reach your goal. All the best in your admission process!