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Monday, May 20, 2024

Government mulls raising university entry age to 18 amidst concerns over underage students

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In a move poised to reshape the landscape of higher education in Nigeria, Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, revealed on Monday that the Federal Government is contemplating elevating the minimum admission age for universities and tertiary institutions to 18 years.

Mamman underscored the pivotal role of age in addressing challenges within higher education, attributing some issues to underage students. Embracing this proposition, the President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, lauded the initiative as a step in the right direction, emphasizing the need for regulatory agencies to enforce age benchmarks effectively.

“The issue of age benchmark is not a new thing,” Osodeke remarked, drawing parallels with historical educational norms. He highlighted the precedent of age requirements in primary and secondary education, advocating for a similar structure at the tertiary level.

Presently, most tertiary institutions in Nigeria admit students from the age of 16, barring exceptional cases of gifted individuals. However, the proposed amendment signals a departure from this norm, aligning with previous legislative efforts to standardize age limits for educational pursuits.

This initiative echoes past endeavors, including the 2021 Senate proposal to amend the law governing the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), aiming to restrict UTME candidates to those aged 16 and above. Mamman’s vigilance during the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination underscored the urgency of addressing age-related disparities to foster a conducive academic environment.

During his inspection of examination centers, Mamman stressed the need for students to attain a certain level of maturity before embarking on university education. He cautioned against premature academic pursuits, citing potential challenges in managing university life for younger students.

With over 1.9 million candidates sitting for the 2024 UTME, Mamman’s remarks signal a broader effort to align educational policies with developmental needs. The seamless conduct of the examination, coupled with technological innovations, reflects a concerted push towards ensuring academic integrity and enhancing educational standards.

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