© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
UNJUST JUPEB: Seeking admission to OAU? Whom you know may count above what you know
SINCE she was in junior secondary school, 17-year-old Feranmi* has always had a soft spot for legal practice. Her mind was simply made up: It was either law or nothing. And so she worked hard to make this dream come true. After hearing about the success rate of the annual Joint Universities Preliminary Examinations Board (JUPEB) examination, her dad, Mr Adeleke, paid well above N200,000 to enrol her at an approved study centre.
For ten gruelling months in 2016, Feranmi studied day and night. Thankfully when the examination was finally over, her hard work paid off as she had the second highest score possible: 15 out of 16. Her dream was closer than she imagined, she thought. But she was wrong. Obafemi Awolowo University offered her admission into the Department of History instead. This not only applied brakes to her dream, it shattered her spirit.
“I don’t feel happy in general,” she told her mom months into her second year at the university, “because of this course I’m doing right now, which I know I don’t deserve but there’s nothing I can do.”
She added: “Most times, I force myself to read just to pass the examinations. There’s no interest and there’s no joy in doing it.”
Mrs Adeleke learnt from Feranmi’s close friends in school that she has been skipping lectures because of her lack of interest in the course.
According to OAU’s Centre for Distance Learning, “JUPEB is a National Examination body saddled with the responsibility of conducting examinations for students, who have undergone approved subject combinations and are seeking Direct Entry admissions into Nigerian and partnering foreign tertiary institutions.”
The programme was approved by the federal government in December 2013 and officially kicked off the following year with a merger of ten universities, including OAU.
An unjust system… a mother’s distress
Feranmi’s mother, not only her daughter, has had to bear a great deal of the heartache. She tried her best to understand why her child did not get her preferred course, but her findings only caused her more emotional pain.
When she met the JUPEB Coordinator at the university, she was told she was denied admission into the law faculty because they did not have a perfect score of 16 out of 16 — only for her to discover many other candidates who scored as low as 10 are now studying their dream course, law.
She took her grievance to the Admissions Officer but nothing came out of it. Aluko, who chairs the Admission Committee, told her point blank she could not change her course back to law upon resumption, though successful transfer candidates abound on campus.
He also gave the excuse that the university considers catchment areas and states of origin in offering admission. When he was told Feranmi in fact has that to their advantage, he could not put up any more defence.
“An admission list was never released,” Mrs Adeleke told The ICIR. “Even a few days before the matriculation, many candidates with lower scores were given admission into the same course for which others who scored higher were rejected.”
“How do we encourage our youth to imbibe hard work when there is no incentive?” she questioned rhetorically.
“I’d initially resigned to fate by encouraging my child to accept the course eventually offered and telling her it could be the will of God. But each time I visit her in school, my daughter complains about her lack of interest and protests why, after her hard work, her spot was given to others.”
Mrs Adeleke also said the unfair system of admission is not exclusive to the faculty of law or the direct entry process. It happens under the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) scheme, in other departments that are in high demand, and has been in place at the university for years.
She believes the admission list ought to be made transparent, with each student’s score on display for verification.
The ICIR gathered that, for instance, Orimogunje Iyanu had an aggregate score of 10 in the JUPEB examination, Bamisaye Peace had 12, and Ayela Rebbeca is also reported to have scored less than 14 — all students of the faculty of law where the cut-off mark was 16/16.
“It is not fair”, other affected students speak out
Sophia Adenola, a 200L student of the Department of English, confirmed to The ICIR that certain candidates with lower scores more often than not get rewarded with their desired courses of study while those who perform better are given unsought departments.
She said the JUPEB programme was “very stressful” for her as she had to read a lot for three different examinations. Eventually, she scored 13 in the final examination. One was added to everyone’s score, to make hers 14 out of 16. She said she knows approximately 15 of her colleagues who successfully “upgraded” their courses, but she is not sure of what all their scores were.
“When we got to OAU, some people were doing change of course,” she narrated. “But that is if you know someone there. Someone that even had nine (9) did a change of course successfully because she knows someone, and she was given the law course she wanted.”
“It is not fair,” she added. “We all worked hard, into the night, burning candles for almost a year. It’s unfair.”
Another student of the university who gained admission through the JUPEB examination, and scored 13/15, had a similar story. She said it is not surprising because “there is no university in Nigeria where there isn’t favouritism.”
“But that doesn’t make it right,” she added.
She thinks what mostly happens is the university has a quota for the number of people they want to admit for a course, and then they consider the next best scorers for admission after all the slots are filled.
“But then we still have cases of people who have 12 or 11 getting admitted for Law. I know someone who had 13 points like me and also had Law.”
“If it’s possible for the system to change, I would want it to because it’s quite painful,” she concluded.
Another student of the Faculty of Arts, who is in his penultimate year, revealed to The ICIR that admission racketeering takes place at the university, as in most other Nigerian tertiary institutions.
“In 2015, when the cut off for the Faculty of Law was 297,” he narrated, “many could not meet up. While a candidate with just two marks less than the cut-off was not offered admission, some were offered courses far from Law such as Dramatic Arts. Meanwhile, there are people with just 201 who were admitted to the faculty.”
The same trend of incidents occurred at the College of Health Sciences, he said. According to him, because of the perceived injustice, many students have opted to drop out after seeing their mates who only scored 200 in the examination remain at the college. Others end up not attending lectures because of disinterest. Some of these students were offered Agriculture though their marks only fell short of the cut-off with five or points.
“In fact, there was a boy, Timi, who secured his admission because of his father’s influence as a lecturer,” the source said.
“Even when you are qualified for admission with better scores above some people’s own, you need to know those in authority to secure the admission.”
Admission for sale
Information found online appear to suggest that it is common practice for students to also pay for admission slots at the Obafemi Awolowo University — a practice known as slot-trading.
According to Wuyi Peter, owner of Wuyi’s Edu. Consultancy who says he has been assisting aspiring students with their admission since 2007, the earlier a candidate submits his application to a staff member or “runs man” the better. These slots may either be bought or given out of goodwill.
“I must let you know that even if you have anyone to whom you have submitted your admission request and they are using a slot they have or have bought for you,” he writes, “please don’t leave them alone, don’t let them rest.”
“Let them feel your urge for the admission because without that, believe me, no matter how much they have collected from you for the slot they are using for you, there will be people who will be willing to pay more after the cut-offs are released.
“And trust me, most ‘runsmen’ don’t have enough strength to rebuke any better offer considering what the new candidate is paying more than you. They will just return your money to you after the admission lists are released and your name is not there, and even at that it’ll still mean they gained while you lose.”
Confirm your source, replies OAU JUPEB Programme Officer
When Kunle Alagbe, the university’s JUPEB Programme Officer, was contacted by The ICIR, he insisted he wanted to know how his phone number was obtained. When our reporter questioned the relevance of that information, he said: “That means your question as well is not relevant.”
“Excuse me,” he continued after it was pointed out that he works for a public institution. “If you can’t tell me where you got my number, whatever you’re telling me is not relevant to me please.”
He added that The ICIR needs to confirm its source and recommended that all complaints be directed to “the main university in form of a letter”.
When he was asked which official of the institution the letter should be directed to, he simply said: “Well you have to it get from your source, please.”
When a call was placed to Mabayoje Aluko, Chairman of OAU’s Admission Committee and Dean of Social Sciences, he excused himself as he was at a meeting and asked to be called later. Calls to his phone after this time were however not answered and text messages sent to him have not been replied.
In a texted response to The ICIR, however, Kehinde Awofisayo, the university’s admission officer, said the claims are false “to the best of my knowledge”.
*Pseudonyms are used in this report in place of the actual names of the students to protect their identities and studentship.