The Sun News

LEAVING THE VARSITY FOR SERIOUS STUDENTS

…As VCs await formal directive on the alleged presidential ‘order’ to expel students with less than 0.5 CGPA, 259 of them are rusticated at UI, 700 at FUTMinna

• Some withdrawn from one course, university, to another, are doing excellently well  –Prof. Popoola, VC, UNIOSUN

From Seye Ojo, Ibadan

At the 31st convocation of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), held recently, on the university campus, President Muhammadu Buhari issued what amounts to an academic red card to poor student performers in various institutions of higher learning in our country.

The President who was represented at the occasion by Prof. Athony Anwukah, the Minister of State for Education, said such students should not be allowed to loiter about in higher institutions, henceforth. “We must stop housing adventurers, who have no business remaining in the universities beyond the time specified for their studies in the university”, he said. “In that wise, it is being proposed that at the end of this academic year, any student with less than 0.5 CGPA should cease to be a student of the university and should be shown the way out.”

Addressing further the subject, he insisted that, “the universities must continue to have people who are serious in what they have come to do. If you have less than 0.5 in your CGPA, you are out for good so that the space will be left for those who have come to do serious business.”

The President may eventually get to officially communicating the decision to the VCs through the right channel. For now, while some are aware of it, it seems that many of them are hearing about it for the first time. When The Sun Education asked Prof. Abdulganiyu Ambali, Vice Chancellor, University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), about it, he quipped: “I have not received a copy of the said directive. If and when it comes, it will be digested in the Senate and appropriate action taken.”

An Attempt to Improve Academic Standards

Prof AbdulRasheed Na’Allah, Vice Chancellor, Kwara State University (KWASU), admitted as much when he confessed that such information has not gotten to the university. “When it comes, it will be digested and various stakeholders will be carried along,” he said. “It will be looked into from various angles before the university can come to conclusion on the matter but I believe it is an attempt to improve the academic standards of the universities.”

Dr Sahabi Maidamma Jabo, the Acting Vice Chancellor, Federal University, Birnin Kebbi, also confessed that he had not received any memo to the effect that students with less than 0.5 GDP should be expelled before declining further comments on the matter while Dr. Okwun Omeaku, Public Relations Officer, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) said that the university is willing to work on the modalities to ensure full implementation of the presidential order, any time it is given a formal directive.

In his response, Prof. Moses Kembe, Vice Chancellor, Benue State University, (BSU), said that although the institution was yet to get any such directive from President Buhari, he stressed that even if there was such directive, it had to come through the National Universities Commission (NUC).

He added that when such directive comes, the University’s Senate must deliberate on it before it will be implemented. He posited that what used to obtain in the past was that students whose CGPA was less than 1.0 were placed on probation for two semesters after which they would be advised to withdraw if their academic performance did not improve within that period.

He, however, noted that since the abrogation of “Pass” position at first degree level, by the NUC, the minimum graduates can now get is Third Class adding that, currently, a student is asked to withdraw if his or her CGPA is less than 1.5.

Garba Waziri, Deputy Registrar, University of Abuja (UNIABUJA) stated: “It is a policy decision by the federal government and we are bound to fully comply with it. Once such directive is officially communicated to us, we would begin the process of the implementation.”

“As long as President Muhammadu Buhari, the Visitor to Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), was the one who gave the directive, we have no choice than to comply strictly with it,” Mr. Adegbenro Adebanjo, the Public Relations Officer, of the university said. “But we are still waiting to hear from the Committee of Vice Chancellors. We won’t do anything until we hear from them.” In the meantime, he advised students of the university to improve on their studies to avoid being expelled for poor academic performance.

Profile of poor academic students

Prof. Musbau Akanji, Vice Chancellor, Federal University of Technology (FUT) Minna, said that no fewer than 700 students of the institution were rusticated during the last academic session due to poor performance. Akanji, while throwing his weight behind the President’s decision, said that at FUT, Minna, 90% of those expelled had less than 1.5 CGPA and therefore could not cope.

Akanji, however, said that the University have put in place measures to reduce the mass failure being recorded, adding that lecturers from the postgraduate school would be engaged to give the students some tutorials.

“We have investigated why we had such a high number of failure and have put structures in place to address that”, he said. “We hope that this measure will address the current mass failure among the students. As an institution, we feel we must do something and that is why we decided to introduce the tutorial.”

Prof. Haruna A. Farouk, Vice Chancellor, Niger State University of Education, believed that the President’s directive is long overdue, stressing that it addresses so many problems in the University system. According to him, most of the students causing trouble on the university campus are those who suffer from some academic deficiency. He wondered what a student who cannot obtain at least 1.5 CGPA could be doing in the University.

Contacted for his comment over the issue, Prof. Joseph Eberendu Ahaneku, Vice Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State noted that it is in the best interest of universities to do away with dullards and to maintain academic excellence.

“Some of the students with such poor academic standings are those who came into the university with WAEC and JAMB results written for them by impersonators and mercenaries who were not caught during the exams,” he revealed. “Some of them also blackmail lecturers when they realize that they can’t measure up. This is one of the reasons we take time, sometimes, up to four days, to organize orientation programme for our newly admitted students in Nnamdi Azikiwe University, to let them know the challenges and expectations as they begin their undergraduate courses so that those who cannot cope can quickly withdraw before the real academic deal commences.”

He added that before the official commencement of this policy, students of the university already know that those with 0.5 to 0.9 CGPA are always placed on academic probation, a measure which he said, is already stated in black and white in the academic regulations handbook of the university which is issued to every new student to serve as their codes of conduct while on campus.

“People should realize that universities are not actually meant for everybody,” he informed. “Some can try polytechnics, monotechnics and vocational centres too. The Presidential directive is a welcome development and we are already implementing it in UNIZIK.”

In his own reaction, Prof. Charles Okey Esimone, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics), of the university agrees with his VC that the university has zero tolerance for such students. “In Section 4.8.2 of the UNIZIK General and Academic Regulations with subheading: ‘Withdrawal from the university on academic grounds,’ it is stipulated among other things that, “a student shall be required to withdraw from the university on academic grounds at the end of each session if his CGPA is below 0.6 and if his CGPA is below 1.00 while on probation.”

The UI model

At the University of Ibadan, The Sun Education gathered that the institution’s management has been expelling students that scored below minimum academic requirement on yearly basis.

Sources within UI said the minimum academic requirement for Medicine is different from Law, and the one for Political Science is different from Petroleum Engineering, “so, it depends on the course of study.”

Efforts to talk with Prof Idowu Olayinka, the Vice Chancellor, did not yield positive results because of the ongoing strike embarked on by the non-academic staff union of the institution.

When contacted on the matter, the university Director of Public Communication, Mr. Olatunji Oladejo, refused to comment, saying he would contact the appropriate quarters in the institution and get back to our correspondent.

But a source who preferred anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the issue said: “there are core courses and elective courses in every institution. For you to sustain your studentship, you must pass all your core courses. You also need to pass your elective courses. But if you pass all your electives convincingly and fail the core courses, you are still going nowhere.

“There are two types of punishment that are usually imposed on students that scored below minimum academic requirement. The first one is to ask them to withdraw from the course. For instance, any student that failed to meet minimum academic requirement in medicine may be asked to withdraw from the course. But such students can retain their studentship by opting for veterinary medicine, animal science, and so on. The CGPA of such students withdrawing may be low for medicine but still good enough for other related courses.

“The second type is that students that scored below minimum academic requirement may be asked to withdraw from the institution; that is outright expulsion. So, President Buhari’s directive will strengthen our action. Any student that scored below 0.5 CGPA has no business to be in this institution, in fact in any institution. It means such student did not even pass any course.”

The Sun Education investigation revealed that the university managementexpelled 37 students, last month (March 2017), over failure to meet minimum academic requirement. The affected students did not pass up to 20 units at the end of their first year of registration.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Olayinka, sometime ago, said that a total of 47 students had problems with their courses and were asked to withdraw at the end of 2015/16 academic session. In 2016, a total of 97 students were asked to withdraw from the institution for their failure to obtain the minimum academic requirement at the end of the 2014/15 academic session.

A statement by the university’s Registrar, Olujimi Olukoya, stated that three of the students voluntarily withdrew from the school, adding that those three and other affected students were from seven faculties and at various levels, including those in the final year of their studies. In 2014, a total of 78 students were asked to withdraw for scoring below the minimum academic requirements in their courses of study. That is to say, between 2014 and 2017, a total of 259 students have been rusticated.

With reports from Fred Ezeh, Abuja; Rose Ejembi, Makurdi; Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin Kebbi; Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka; John Adams, Minna; Aloysius Attah, Onitsha; Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure and Olayiwola Olanrewaju, Illorin

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