What age for varsity admission?


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With a score of 347, 14-year-old Franklin Ekene Ezeunala made the best result in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME). But his age may be a hindrance in his admission bid. The eligible age for admission is 16. Should he be denied admission because of age? KOFOWOROLA BELO-OSAGIE sought experts’ views. Fourteen-year-old Ekene Franklin Ezuelana did not need to check his Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) result because of his outstanding performance. It was announced by Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) Registrar, Prof Is-haq Oloyede last Saturday. Ekene, a Senior Secondary School Three (SS3) pupil of Meiran Community Secondary School, Lagos, scored 347 in the test – the highest in the country. His lowest score in the four subjects he took was 78 in English language.  He scored 91 in Mathematics, 86 in Physics and 92 in Chemistry. Sixteen year-old Igban Emmanuel Chidiebube made the second best score of 346; Oluwo Isaac Olamilekan, 17, was the third with 345. With such feat, Ekene should ordinarily not have a problem gaining admission into his school of first choice, University of Lagos (UNILAG).  But his age is a snag to his entering the university.  At 14, he is below 16 – the approved age for university admission.  Although he will 15 before universities resume in September, he will still not be be eligible for admission because of his age. Ekene will turn 15 on May 27 – the day designated as Children’s Day.  He is not the first under-aged student to apply to UNILAG.  Last year’s overall best candidate in the UTME, Orisheneye Okorogheye David, was 15 when he applied to study Medicine at the university. Orisheneye scored 332 in the 2018 UTME and made nine A1 in the 2018 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), as a pupil of Starfield College, Iju, Lagos.  He was denied admission by UNILAG on the basis of age. The 16-year-old age limit is part of JAMB’s guidelines for candidates applying for admission into tertiary institutions. In the introductory note of the JAMB 2017 Brochure for Degree-Awarding Institutions available on the board’s website (https://www.jamb.gov.ng/brochure.aspx), Paragraph Three under Section One Sub-section One titled: “Important Points to note”, states that: “A candidate must have attained the age of sixteen (16) years or would have done so on the first day of October in the year of his/her candidature.” UNILAG also reiterates this requirement under the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on admissions on its website. The question, which is the second on the list, reads: “What is the minimum age UNILAG admits?” The response follows: “The minimum age is sixteen (16) years by 31st October of the admission year.” Mrs Chinelo Ezeunala said her family was not aware of the age requirement when Ekene was registering for the UTME.  She noted that UNILAG was their first choice of school because of its proximity, adding that given his age, they did not want him to school far from home. “That is what we are just hearing o!” she said to The Nation when asked about the under-age factor.  I did not know before.  It was when the result came out that we heard that UNILAG does not accept students younger than 16.  We would have preferred UNILAG because of his age.  We chose the school so that he would not be far from home,” said Mrs Ezeunala, a Chemistry teacher at Hightree College, Berger. When asked if her son would take the scholarship offer by Chief Gregory Ibe, Chancellor of Gregory University, a private university in Uturu, Abia State, Mrs Ezeunala said she would have to discuss with her husband. “I have not heard of the scholarship. I cannot say for now if he will take it. The dad is still alive and we would decide as a family. We are not really well off and we cannot afford private university fees.” But she added: “If it is a full scholarship, my opinion is: ‘Why not?'” Mrs Ezeunala said she was not worried about Ekene’s ability to cope with academic and social life on campus. “I know him; he can cope.  He is matured in his mind,” she said. Ekene, on his part, is okay with whatever the law says. “I feel that since that is the law, I have no choice but to abide by the law,” he said, adding that the decision to take the Gregory University offer would be taken by his parents. Read also: I targeted 370, says UTME best Ekene However, if he has to go to the university early, Ekene does not think it would be a challenge. “I do not think I will have any challenges,” he said. An education specialist, Mrs Dideolu Adekogbe, also believes that the law should be obeyed.  Mrs Adekogbe, who is campaigning that six years of primary education should be sacrosanct as against usual private school practice of four or five years, said it was okay if Ekene was not admitted by UNILAG on the b...