COVID-19: 1.3 million UTME candidates can’t seek admission over delayed WAEC, NECO exams

No fewer than 1,300,000 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination candidates may lose their admission into universities and polytechnics in 2020 over the delay in the Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the category of candidates who used awaiting results to sit the 2020 UTME, which held between March 14 and March 22 – a few weeks into the COVID-19 crisis.

Both the West African Examinations Council and the National Examinations Council, which should have conducted their examinations in April and May 2020, have yet to do so due to schools closure since March due to COVID-19.

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board at its policy meeting with heads of tertiary institutions in the country on Tuesday announced 120 and 160 cut-off marks for admission into polytechnics and universities respectively for the 2020/2021 academic session.

It also said admission processes would begin in August 2020, with candidates who already had their O-Level results.

The JAMB Registrar, Prof Is-haq Oloyede, noted that candidates who used awaiting results would only be considered when the results were uploaded on the board’s website.

From the JAMB Policy Guidelines presentation by Oloyede, obtained by punch correspondent, the figures of awaiting results candidates, who, however, met the cut-offs for universities and polytechnics are over 1.3 million.

Yet the inability of WAEC and NECO to hold their SSCE as a result of the closure of schools may likely jeopardise the admission chances of the UTME candidates, our correspondent learnt.

On page 144 of the presentation, the registrar said, “On the 2020 UTME cumulative performance statistics, 1,889,801 candidates got 120 and above; the total number of candidates with Ordinary Level results uploaded are 536,813 while 1,352,988 are candidates with awaiting results.

“Of the 1,889,801, a total number of 1,329,289 got 160 and above; of the 1,329,289, a total number of 398,984 candidates uploaded their O-Level results and 930,305 is the number of candidates awaiting results.

“No admission can be initiated from JAMB; it must come from the institutions using the Central Admission Processing System process. In this process, the institution’s Admission Officer proposes a candidate; then, the Head of Institution recommends the candidate; furthermore, the JAMB Desk Officer approves recommendation and finally, the candidate accepts or rejects.

“After the uploading of o’Level by a candidate, any admission to be done must consider him or her. If any institution requests for opening of change for programme or institution, it must consider all the candidates who have uploaded.”

The board instructed institutions to notify it if they were having “COVID-19 — induced delay or no Ordinary Level results from many candidates.”

When contacted, the NECO Head of Information, Azeez Sanni, said the council was waiting for a directive from the government as “different stakeholders are also deliberating on the matter and will come up with a solution.”

The WAEC Head of Public Affairs, Damian Ojijeogu, said the council was prepared to conduct the o’Level examination.

“We were already prepared to conduct the examination before the lockdown,” he said in a text message.

In his remarks on Tuesday, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, represented by the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, directed JAMB and tertiary institutions to proceed with the conduct of 2020/2021 admissions.

He noted that admission processes are expected to commence in August based on the guidelines released by JAMB.

“As major stakeholders, we must jointly come up with reactions that would realign our programmes to these new realities. Whatever arrangement that the country comes up with in the long run, it will surely accommodate those who will be taking the examination when the opportunity to do so is worked out,” the minister had said.

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