Pursuit of Admission: Navigating Nigeria's Education Labyrinth - SCHOOLCONTENTS.info

Pursuit of Admission: Navigating Nigeria's Education Labyrinth

Since the Ministry of Education announced that only 20% of admission seekers might stand the chance to be offered spaces in our higher institutions in 2024, many have questioned the reality of such a projection. We, at Techie BEC Konult, also looked into things to validate or dismiss the claim. Our final stance was well covered in the post, "Admission Realities: 20% Admission Cap (Fact or Fiction)?"

Whether the 20% stands or it's what we had in the past (which was usually above 30%), the number of candidates to be admitted will forever be lower than those that apply, especially while we still have limited resources in our universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, college of nursing, and colleges of health technology.

The question at hand is: How will you be among the 20%? If higher, how will you find yourself on the admission list of your proposed institution? In this article, we will look into the universal procedures of admission in Nigeria - thereby educating you on what is required of you as an admission seeker. Knowing that will be of great benefit since you won't miss out on anything due to ignorance on your part. Also, we have some recommendations for you on how to make the list using the experience of previously admitted students, our personal experience as an education/career consulting firm, and reveal concerns already being shared by the Joint Admissions Board, Ministry of Education, National University Commission (NUC), National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and other stakeholders. In the end, every participant will know where it is needed and must come in.

Gaining Admission in Nigeria Has Never Been Easy

Nigeria has a higher education crisis. Between 2010 and 2015, only 26 percent of the 10 million applicants to Nigerian tertiary institutions gained admission, according to the Pienews. This figure keeps going up year after year. The table below gives you ideas of what students have been facing since 2017 to date.

Statistics of JAMB applicants from 2017 to 2023

A related reason is the unutilized spaces in the available quotas. This is a worrisome situation of schools with more capacity to admit students end up admitting but very few. It was reported that in 2020, about 400,000 available spaces were not filled by the universities, polytechnics, and others - thereby denying the eligible students admissions. For that year, tertiary institutions only admitted 551,553 candidates out of the 956,809 admission quota available to them.

Despite these external factors, students lock horns with one another chasing courses with limited space. Recently, Computer Science was reported to be the most-admitted-into course in Nigeria according to Statistics. A similar report by JAMB (2023) shows 452,443 UTME candidates jostling for 78,578 medicine spaces. The situation was the same the year before with 367,499 applied for 43,717 medicine and surgery slots. The report included similar details such as more details by the board revealed that 239,018 candidates applied for social science courses with 97,744 vacancies; 227,453 candidates applied for science-related courses with 141,397 available slots, 163,123 applied for engineering courses with 68,896.

Another area of concern for admission seekers is head-locking for spaces in the most competitive institutions, particularly universities. In an interview with the former Vice Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Bamitale Omole, who claimed that over 70,000 students compete for yearly 5,600 slots at the university, also spoke on the importance of considering less focused universities and other higher institutions apart from universities.

The University of Ilorin and a few others have been oversubscribed over the years. In 2021, UNILORIN, UNILAG, UNIBEN, UNN, and FUOYE topped the list of the most subscribed universities with 78,466, 59,190, 49,763, 47,239, and 45,920 applicants respectively. In most cases, more than 70 percent of these students will not be admitted eventually. For example, for that year, the University of Ilorin only admitted and matriculated 13,274, the University of Lagos 11,885, and the University of Benin 12,513.

Some of these students will not be admitted not because they don't pass JAMB or the post UTME or do not process admission any further beyond the UTME. Other factors, known and unknown to students, have contributed to such in the past. Reports have it that, out of the 4,948 applicants who scored 300 and above, only 3,492 gained admissions into higher institutions, leaving a total of 1,456 applicants stranded. Similarly, about 52,323 candidates scored between 250 and 299 in the same examination, out of which 22,580 candidates were also not admitted.

The reasons for this apparently are beyond not passing, according to the JAMB registrar. It was found out among other things that the following are the reasons for missing out on the yearly admission lists:

  1. Applicants’ Rigidity: Candidates who insist on a particular program and refuse to settle for any alternative.
  2. Wrong O’level Subject Combination: Candidates who have chosen incorrect subjects at the O'level.
  3. Low post-UTME Screening Score: Candidates who scored poorly in the post-UTME screening.
  4. UTME-Combination Deficiency: Candidates who did not have the required combination of subjects in the UTME exam.
  5. Non-Acceptance of the Offer: Candidates who did not accept the admission offer given to them.
  6. Duplication of Application: Candidates who submitted multiple applications.
  7. Absence from Post-UTME Screening: Candidates who did not attend the post-UTME screening.
  8. Mismatch of Catchment Institutions: Candidates who applied to institutions, not within their catchment area.
  9. Failure to Upload O’level with Required Subjects: Candidates who did not upload their O'level results with at least five credits in the required subjects.

What We Have Now and the Future

Not only is JAMB giving stats every year to help the concerns to be aware of the reasons gaining admissions has been a tug of war and will most likely remain so, but stakeholders are giving us insights into what can hold you back and what is expected of you.

Students have been advised to look into the possibility of gaining into higher institutions other than universities are undoubtedly the most competitive. We have mostly unused quotas in polytechnics, colleges of education, colleges of nursing, colleges of health technology, and innovative enterprise institutions (IEI). According to the former OAU VC, earlier referred, our education policy has not allowed students to appreciate other tertiary education besides university. We kill our polytechnics and technical institutions that could have assisted our students in their careers, forgetting that not all students can go to the university because of their special area of interest which aligns with their careers in life. He stresses further that many industrialists all over the world are not university graduates.

Just recently, Osun State University got a 100 percent quota increase for medical students. In a bid to cover the shortage of medical doctors in the country, the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN, has increased the admission quota for medical students at Osun State University from 100 to 200. This is in response to the Federal Government increasing the enrollment quota for medical schools from 5,000 to 10,000. In effect, all concerned schools will likely double their intakes for the year 2024 and henceforth. Students can take advantage of this to pursue medical courses.

This is calling the attention of the students to seek admission into less competitive courses in our institutions. The more vacancies, the better your chance as the less the number of students competing for limited spaces, the better your chance to be admitted.

The report won't be complete without making the position of the Ministry of Education. When the minister declared that only 20% of students will sit for JAMB in 2024, which is likely to be the same for a few years to come, the popular question was what will be the fate of the 80% of others? Well, he did not hold back on answering that as well.

Accordingly, the ministry is recommending skills acquisition as the alternative to seeking conventional formal education. The minister said they are our children, our wards living with us. This is why the issue of skills acquisition is important because any student who is not able to proceed to tertiary education should be able to have a meaningful life even after secondary school, even primary education. The only solution to that is skills; by taking skills right from the time they entered school, for the primary right through the educational trajectory. Somebody should finish with one skill or another. That is part of the assumption of the 6-3-3-4.


The admission predicament in Nigeria epitomizes systemic inadequacies and entrenched challenges that defy simplistic solutions. While efforts to shed light on admission statistics and offer recommendations are commendable, they often fail to address the root causes of the crisis.

The Ministry of Education's projection of a mere 20% admission rate in 2024 reflects a grim reality (even though fell short of the number in the past): a vast majority of deserving candidates will be left stranded, thwarted by bureaucratic hurdles and institutional inefficiencies. Despite the ministry's suggestion of skills acquisition as an alternative, such a proposal overlooks the fundamental right to quality formal education and perpetuates a two-tiered system that disproportionately favors the privileged.

Moreover, the chronic underutilization of available admission quotas underscores a troubling trend of misallocation and mismanagement within the higher education sector. While prestigious institutions like the University of Ilorin and others grapple with overwhelming demand, lesser-known colleges, and technical institutes remain underutilized, exacerbating disparities in educational access and opportunity.

The admission process itself is riddled with pitfalls, from arbitrary cutoff scores to opaque selection criteria, leaving many well-qualified candidates disillusioned and disheartened. The emphasis on high-stakes examinations like JAMB further exacerbates inequalities, favoring those with access to expensive preparatory resources and perpetuating a culture of exam-centric learning at the expense of critical thinking and creativity.

In light of these challenges, mere recommendations for students to explore alternative pathways or pursue vocational training fall short of addressing the underlying systemic issues. What is needed is a comprehensive overhaul of the higher education system, one that prioritizes equity, transparency, and inclusivity at every stage of the admission process.

This requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders, including government agencies, educational institutions, civil society organizations, and the private sector. By fostering a culture of collaboration and accountability, we can work towards a future where every aspiring student has a fair chance to pursue their educational aspirations, irrespective of socio-economic status or geographic location.

In essence, while acknowledging the complexities of the admission landscape in Nigeria, we must resist the temptation to offer simplistic solutions or apportion blame. Instead, we must confront the structural inequities and systemic failures that perpetuate educational injustice, working together to build a more equitable and inclusive higher education system for generations to come.


  1. "2 million applicants for 750K places: Nigeria’s bid to tackle its capacity issue" - Source: The PIE News
  2. "Despite over a million students without admission, universities, colleges underutilise admission quota" - Source: Premium Times NG
  3. "Computer Science tops courses young Nigerians studying in universities – Report" - Source: Vanguard News
  4. "TOP 25 COURSES BY ADMISSION INTO NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES - 2022" - Source: Twitter (X.com)- StatiSense
  5. "452443 UTME candidates jostle for 78578 medicine spaces" - Source: Punch Newspapers
  6. "Way out of admission crisis, by stakeholders" - Source: Vanguard News
  7. "367,499 applied for 43,717 medicine slots –JAMB report" - Source: Punch
  8. "UNIBEN Admits 25% Out Of 50,055 Applicants" - Source: UNILAG NEWS
  9. "Despite scoring above 300 in UTME, 1,456 candidates missed university admission" - Source: Premium News
  10. "Uniosun gets 100 percent quota increase for medical students" - Source: Vanguard News
  11. "Japa: FG increases admission quota into medical schools by 100%" - Source: Business Day
  12. "Only 20% of 2024 UTME candidates will get admission into tertiary institutions — FG" - Source: Nigerian Tribune

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