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Across all the educational institutions in Nigeria, two-thirds of about two million Nigerian candidates who applied for tertiary education in 2019 were not admitted, according to the JAMB.

Data from the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board shows that this is not because they did not pass, but because there is not enough room for all of them.

While about two million students applied for the Unified Tertiary and Matriculation Examinations and Direct Entry, the country’s institutions had a target of 600,000, but they ended up admitting 612,557 as of June.

The admission data released by JAMB shows that the nation’s universities admitted a total of 444,947 students; polytechnics and monotechnics, 96,423; colleges of education 69,810; and innovation enterprise institutions, 1,377.

Meanwhile, of the two million students who applied, a little above 1.7 million scored 140 and above, the cutoff.

Meeting the cutoff is not enough for admission as students are required to have at least five O Level credits, which must include mathematics and English in some cases.

Data from JAMB also say that of those who made the cutoff, about 1.2 million had five O Level credits, including mathematics and English, but half of them were admitted.

No of students admitted to Nigerian institutions 2008-2019
No. of students admitted to Nigerian institutions 2008-2019

Considering the estimate by statistics bureau, NBS that Nigeria’s population is about 207 million, about 60 per cent of whom are 24 or younger, this is nowhere enough.

Thus, due to the paucity of space in these institutions, some Nigerians often opt for a foreign education.

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But in a country where the minimum monthly wage is only ₦30,000 (about $80), and about four in ten people earn less than ₦377 daily ($0.97), such a choice is a huge luxury.

Space not only reason

But JAMB says the absence of space is not the only contributory factor to missing out on admission into Nigerian institutions.

The examination board says, apart from over-subscription of some programmes, wrong O Level subject combination, low screening (POST UTME) score, UTME-combination deficiency, non-acceptance of admission offer, duplication of application, absence from Post- UTME screening, mismatch of catchment institutions and no O Level trial are other likely reasons candidates are not offered admission.

Nonetheless, the cycle has subsisted for years.

Data from NBS and JAMB shows that between 2010 and 2015, of the 10 million applicants that sought entry into Nigerian tertiary institutions, only 26 per cent gained entry. That is about one in every four in those years.

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