The legal luminary described the reduction as violence to the university system and a major setback to quality education in the country.
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board announced on Tuesday the reduction of cut-off marks for candidates seeking admission into Nigerian universities to 120 and 100 for polytechnics and colleges of education in the country.
But Babalola, in a statement, said he was worried that the decision was taken without due consideration for its implication on the quality of education in Nigerian tertiary institutions.
“What is the whole essence of reducing cut-off marks for admission to as low as 120 for universities and 100 for polytechnics, monotechnics and colleges of education? Will such an action enhance or reduce the quality of education?
“Will it give international recognition to the degrees awarded by the Nigerian universities which, in any case, are already being questioned? Is the reduction a deliberate ploy to make things worse?” Babalola quizzed.
The senior advocate said the caveat by JAMB that each university had the right to set its own standard did not help matters, adding that “it portrays us all as not having an acceptable limit for setting standards.”
He, therefore, called for an urgent education summit which he suggested should be attended by stakeholders of higher education institutions to address the problems.
The statement partly read, “Are we now saying there will be no uniform standards in our tertiary education in this country? Is the government or its agencies encouraging double or multiple standards?
“I do hope that those behind this reduction are aware that even candidates who pass the UTME at 180 and above now find it difficult and tasking to get admission into Nigerian universities because there are more qualified candidates than the spaces available and because of the paucity of facilities in the existing universities.
“It must be appreciated that even the former 180 cut-off mark is less than 50 per cent of the total JAMB marks. As I said earlier, a minimum of 50 per cent was regarded and acknowledged as pass mark in elementary schools in those days and now JAMB is recommending 120, a mere 30 per cent of the total score of 400.”
But the JAMB Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, has insisted that pegging the minimum cut-off benchmark for admission at 120 for universities and 100 for polytechnics, will improve access to education.
This is just as he said that the latest admission cut-off mark, the lowest in the history of the examination body, is a collective decision of JAMB as well as vice-chancellors, rectors and provosts of colleges of education.
Oloyede, who also noted that the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination was not an achievement test, said this on Wednesday during an interview with one of our correspondents in Lagos.
He said,” What makes a candidate qualified for examination is not the UTME, it is the O’Level. There was no time in the last 10 years that we have filled 70 per cent of our quota. We have never filled 50 per cent quota for Physics in the last 10 years. Yet we are paying lecturers.
“What we have done is to put everything in the table. There is no pass or fail grade in the UTME.”