The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Lagos State University (LASU) Chapter, has accused the university management of engaging in admission racketeering for the 2018/2019 academic year.
The union in a memo to the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun, sighted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Thursday, alleged that the admission process was being done in “secrecy and arbitrariness’’.
The memo with reference No. ASUU/LASU/GS/16/342, signed by the union’s Secretary, Dr Tony Dansu and the Assistant Secretary, Dr Adeolu Oyekan, alleged that the admission process under the current vice-chancellor was “becoming increasingly opaque’’.
The union said the admission process had little or no set criteria that qualified candidates for admission.
“The union got reliable information that when the first batch of the applicants was selected, Head of Departments (HODs) were invited to ratify a list of admitted students and permitted to add one qualified candidate of their choice.
“Since then, what qualified others that were admitted remained unknown to many in the university.
“There have been several reports of applicants who scored well below what was considered to be cut-off points on the basis of the first list sent to the departments, showing up as having been admitted,’’ the union said.
According to the union, the development has fuelled insinuation of admission racketeering in the highest office within the university.
ASUU also expressed concern about the announcement by the university few weeks ago of the closure of its admission process.
The union wondered if it was a genuine closure or a commencement of another round of admission under an “arbitrarily -determined process’’.
According to the union, a similar announcement was made in 2017 but the eventual number of matriculated students revealed that more students were still admitted after the announcement of the close of admission.
“It is important to have a standardised procedure for admitting students. Equally important, if not more, are the need to make such procedures very transparent to all and sundry.
“An admission process perceived as shoddy and subject to patronage eroded faith in the system,’’ the union said.
ASUU, however, urged the university management to publish criteria for the selection of candidates for the 2018/2019 admission on its official website and bulletin.
It demanded that the university should also make available to the public the list of candidates offered admission, their aggregate scores and courses.
According to the union, doing this will go a long way in building greater confidence on the part of the general public in the university.
Reacting, Mr Ademola Adekoya, the Spokesman for LASU, described the ASUU’s allegation as mischievous, saying they (ASUU) were the only union or stakeholders of the university complaining about the admission process.
Adekoya told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the union might also be making such allegation because they did not understand the processes of admission.
“It is not correct that the admission is done on account of secrecy or arbitrariness. If so, the HOD’s would have complained instead of ASUU; because nothing concerns a union with admission process,’’ he said.
According to him, the initial process of the admission requires the university Senate and HOD’s to meet to determine the cut-off marks of each department.
Adekoya said for the merit list, students who scored above the pegged cut-off mark were selected after considering the 70 to 30 per cent for indigenes and non-indigenes merit.
He said that the subsequent list being queried by ASUU was called the “Vice-Chancellor’s discretion list’’ which enabled the VC’s prerogative power to offer admission at his discretion without consulting the department.
“The discretion list consists of candidates who are also qualified for the admission, some of which are biological children of members of staff and the university stakeholders and would also undergo screening from the department.
“That the VC has offered them admissions doesn’t mean the department will accept them and JAMB will still screen the students also before giving them admission.
“What the VC will not do is to go beyond the capacity of the departments and that is why admission process is usually slow,’’ he told NAN.
Adekoya noted that the alleged admission racketeering was impossible because there was an admission committee headed by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration).
“If ASUU is saying that racketeering of the admission is ongoing, the union should tender an evidence to prove their allegation, so as to help the management sanction those who may be involved in such,’’ he said.
According to him, the university also has the right to announce that admission for a session is closed at anytime without seeking permission or opinion from any union.
He said this was to prevent unnecessary request from admission seekers who would not relent in pestering the management, having offered admission to the number of candidates it could accommodate.
“We have over 40,000 admission applicants for this session and over 30,000 will not be offered admission and a lot of them are still coming to make request.
“The VC’s office is now like a Mecca because everybody wants to come to LASU and the only way to stop them is to announce that admission is closed so that the vice-chancellor can also have time for other things,’’ he said.
Adekoya said the institution also made the announcement to prevent admission seekers and their families from falling prey of some unscrupulous elements who may want to defraud them.
He said the time bound for admission process as announced by JAMB had also closed.
“The university must make the announcement to enable it submit admission list for JAMB to process the successful candidates’ admission letter,’’ Adekoya said.
He said that the admission was announced closed, did not mean that the university was not working underground.
Adekoya said this was because there could be errors in the list sent to JAMB and could be returned for correction.
He, however, noted that the allegation of admission racketeering by the union was aimed at bringing the university into disrepute.
According to him, the admission process has been transparent and everything done in line with the university’s rules and regulations.