Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Application into Nigerian Universities is on the Decline

The Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB), the Nigerian agency that oversees admission examination into Nigerian universities reports a 25% drop in applications, according to Nigerian news agencies.

Here is an excerpt from the ThisDay one of the Nigerian news agencies that reported the drop on April 19:
"Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) yesterday announced that it has recorded a 25 per cent drop in the 2006/2007 applicants for the Universities and Matriculation Examination (UME)...The figure represents 281,247 decrease from the 2005 figure of 908,847. In 2004 a total of 838,051 sat for the exam while 1,099,241 sat for the exam in 2003."
On taking a closer look at the figures stated above, I discerned that the reported 25% drop is a gross understatement of the decline in applications.

Using the numbers provided by the agency (above), I created this table below (and I hope math is straight). This year's applications dropped by 31% when compared to 2005 data, and by 43% when compared to 2003. There has been a general decline ( a negative trend) in number of students applying into Nigerian universities since 2003.

Was the 25% reported a misprint, or an error from JAMB?

A visit to the JAMB's website ( didn't help; the most recent data on the site is for year 2001 as at the time of this post.

The gist is not the discrepancies in the numbers really; it is the fact that few Nigerians are getting admitted into the universities. And what can account for this?

The major determinants in the application process are two, namely: having the prerequisite high school qualifications and cost of application.

Has the pool of qualified high school students shrunk over the years because of the failed educational system in Nigeria, or the cost of application materials has simply become unaffordable for more prospective students?

Surprisingly, JAMB failed to give some insight into why there is a drop of this magnitude; maybe the reported "25% drop" isn't big enough. Rather, their news release focued on how the agency has added 13 new testing centers and being able to take "additional measures aimed at curbing the activities of examination cheats."

It is arguable that a 4-year worth of data is typically not enough for trend analysis, but in this case the gradient is simply too step to ignore.

As it is usually the case with Nigerian issues, more questions pop up the closer one looks and the deeper one digs. Here are some:

Should there be fewer applications into the universities because of the of inability of the Nigerian economy to absorb the graduates as they are being produced?

Where do the newly licensed private universities fit in all these?

Apparently the emergence of these universities has not translated into more Nigerians wanting to attend universities, in fact, it appears it's quite the contrary.

External Links:
ThisDay (article):