The Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Julius Okojie has announced that Universities that have lost up to five months in a session may be barred from admitting students the following year.

Responding to questions at the 2010 Ministerial Score Card presented by the Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa’i, yesterday in Abuja, Okojie said NUC was working with the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to ensure that sanctions are applied to institutions that are shut down for more than five months.

Such institutions especially those in the eastern part of the country, he said, will also be required to explain to the two bodies how and when they plan to conclude the session that was interrupted.
State-owned universities in the South-East, shut down since July 22 due to a strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in the zone, recently re-opened, almost five months after.

The commission asked why JAMB should continue to conduct examinations annually even when many universities are not able to admit students at the same pace, JAMB Registrar, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, said since the examination is achievement-based (on syllabus and curriculum), which cannot be carried over, it has to be conducted for those who can be admitted.

Defending the establishment of more federal universities, which he said will expand access, Ojerinde expressed regret that a candidate who scored 293 marks in the last UTME could not be admitted to read Medicine at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) because the cut-off mark was 310 since 7, 000 candidates applied for the course and the university could only admit 150.

On the N3 billion National Research Fund, Executive Secretary of the Education Trust Fund (ETF), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said it is to be disbursed for serious research work. There are no timelines attached to it and it is to be replenished when exhausted. So far, 17 applications have been received and the experts appointed by the Fund met last week to examine them.

Director, Basic Education in the ministry, Alhaji Garba Bello, also announced the reintroduction of the National Common Entrance Examination which, as was the practice, will be conducted in the month of April every year, beginning from next year.

The minister had briefed stakeholders on the major initiative and achievements of the ministry and its parastatals during the year, saying the one year strategy developed by the ministry had given the sector a better focus.

Presenting the mid-term report on the strategy, which covers the period between May 2010 and April 2011, Rufa'i said it includes the four focal areas of the Roadmap for the Nigerian Education Sector – Access and Equity, Standards and Quality Assurance; Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET), as well as Funding, Partnerships and Resource Mobilisation.
Two new focal areas identified by her to stand on their own have also been added. These are Teacher Education and Development, as well as Strengthening the Institutional Management of Education.