For the umpteenth time, Taiwo Joseph ran his eyes over and across the names pasted on the school’s notice board, and again, he shook his head in disbelief.
How could someone who matriculated at the university a year earlier – and amid much fanfare – to study Medicine and Surgery and who passed all his first year examinations end up in Fisheries Department?
“At first it seemed like a joke, I was standing there and imagining all kinds of things. Like, what did I do wrong? Who did I offend?” said Mr. Joseph (not his real name), 20.
Mr. Joseph was among the hundreds of students who participated in a protest within the university campus on February 10, where they accused the management of denying them promotions to 200 level.
According to the students, the university authorities introduced new academic rules wherein they unilaterally placed prospective Year Two Medical students into departments other than the ones they had gained admission to study.
The decision was taken despite the students meeting all the requirements needed to proceed to medical school.
Shifting the goal post
The university handbook provides a set of rules used to determine who is eligible to attend the College of Medicine at Idi-Araba, after the first academic session.
According to the rules, seen by PREMIUM TIMES, pre-Medical and pre-Pharmacy students (100 level) are categorised under three science groups: Biological, Chemical, and Physical.
“Category A – Pre-Medical and Pre-Pharmacy students registered for Medicine and Surgery, Dentistry, Medical Laboratory, Nursing, Physiotherapy, and Pharmacy require cumulative score average of 50 in the three science group courses at the end of the session, to advance to 200 level of the programme in which the student was admitted into,” the handbook stated.
“Category B – Pre-Medical and Pre-Pharmacy students registered for Pharmacology, Physiology, and Radiography require CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average) of (at least) 2.00 at the end of the session to advance to 200 level.”
However, during the academic session, and with the students on course to meeting the criteria, the university hinted at a possibility of most of them not making it to their desired courses of study, a move akin to shifting the goal post in the middle of a game.
In the new rules, the cumulative score average of 50 for Medicine and Surgery, Dentistry, Medical Laboratory Science, Nursing, and Physiotherapy was revised upwards to possession of 4.11 CGPA for MBBS; 3.25 CGPA for MLS; 3.06 CGPA for Physiotherapy; 3.00 CGPA for Nursing; and 3.06 CGPA for Dentistry.
Also, the 2.00 CGPA entry qualification for the Pharmacology, Physiology, and Radiography programmes was also revised upwards to possession of a minimum CGPA of 2.50.
A parent, whose child was studying Nursing, said he was shocked when his daughter brought news to him that she had been to continue her undergraduate programme in the Botany department.
“My daughter had already told me that she was among the students who had crossed over to 200 level, because they had already pasted their names on the board,” said the parent who did not want his name disclosed to avoid victimization.
“We had even gone to church to give testimonies.
“She had already resumed at Idi-Araba, intending to be receiving lectures. There she was told that another criteria has come up and which she would not be allowed to do that Nursing.
“She said the College of Medicine told them that with the new criteria, only few of them would be allowed to go on 200 level, that they had admitted some Diploma students, some A-level students in their gaps.
“I said ‘What do you mean?’ I didn’t understand all these things. I now followed her to the school, to her department.”
It was not only the man’s daughter, and Mr. Joseph, who were placed into departments other than the ones for which they were given admission – even though they met all the stipulated criteria.
One Medicine and Surgery student ended up in Pharmacology, a Radiography student was transferred to Microbiology, a Medical Laboratory student was moved to Fisheries.
Some others were moved to departments like Psychology, Marine Biology, and Yoruba Education.
One of the oldest students in the group, who had bagged a First and Masters degrees in Physiology, but returned to study Medicine and Surgery was taken to Microbiology.
“So my daughter has been down since then,” said the parent.
“All these students were able to meet up the criteria. In fact, those people that did not meet up, they did not bother to join in fighting for this.”
Another parent whose daughter was moved from Radiography to Microbiology said the latter department informed her they were not admitting any student because “they already had their list.”
“So there is no vacancy as at now,” he added.
On the day of protest, the parents joined their children as they marched towards the Senate Building to lodge their complaints.
“We tried to see the Provost, the Dean, the Sub-Dean, even the Vice Chancellor. We were not allowed to see the Vice Chancellor,” one of the parents told PREMIUM TIMES.
“The Information Officer was even threatening to get some of the parents arrested. That was when some of the students flared up. Arrest our parents? For coming to lodge complaints about the injustice meted on their children? Some of them carried placards, they even locked the school gate.”
The students who protested last week alleged that the new rules were made to allow more Diploma students into the College of Medicine.
It was gathered that the diploma students, who pay as much as N400,000 (as against the N55,000 fees paid by the degree students), got 60 percent out of the 150 student quota for Medicine and Surgery.
The revision of the academic qualification into the College of Medicine meant that a lot of the students fell short of the minimum entry requirement.
For instance, in Medicine and Surgery (allocated a quota of 150 students), out of the 147 students admitted into 100 level, 110 met the entry requirements but only 60 were selected.
In Medical Laboratory Science, 69 students were admitted out of which 50 students met the criteria for the MLS programme, but 33 were taken.
Seventy-two students were admitted to study Nursing, 35 met the criteria but 27 were allowed to proceed to the College of Medicine.
It was the same situation in the other three pre-Medical and pre-pharmacy courses.
PREMIUM TIMES sought the university authorities reaction to the claims of populating the College of Medicine with Diploma students. The institution’s Senior Assistant Registrar said she could not speak on such matters.
“The university has already issued a statement on this. I do not have any other information,” she added.
In the report it issued last week, the school management said the professional bodies regulating the study of medical programmes introduced a fresh index system aimed at allocating quotas to universities.
“This year, the professional bodies have insisted on the enforcement of the quota upon which accreditation is hinged and hence the college has to conform,” said the statement issued by Toyin Adebule, Head of Information Unit.
“What this means is that only students that are indexed will be registered by the professional bodies to practice after graduation.
The statement added that the Senate of the institution at a meeting on 27th January approved the implementation of the re-arrangement to conform to the professional bodies’ quota in order not to lose accreditation.
“This has regrettably meant that we have only been able to receive students into the college only up to the number the College of Medicine allowed by the quota,” the university stated.
“We recognize and regret that this has led to some students being unable to cross over into the College of Medicine or their course of choice.
“Consequently, all candidates who were not successful to be placed in programmes in CMUL (College of Medicine University of Lagos) have been allocated to appropriate programmes on the main campus in Akoka.”
On Tuesday, the aggrieved students, through their lawyer, sent a letter to the university authorities demanding a rescind of the decision, and reinstating them to their courses of choice.
“Good enough, the University of Lagos has a Faculty of Law, a Legal Department and a team of external solicitors that can be approached for legal advice if the University has no clarity on the illegality of her actions regarding the ill-treatment of our clients,” Jiti Ogunye, the students’ lawyer, stated in the letter dated February 15.
“Take notice that if the University fails, refuses or neglects to accede to our demand within seven days of the delivery of this letter, we shall not hesitate to initiate a legal action against the University of Lagos…”
Mr. Joseph said he hopes the threat of a legal action against the university would force their hand to reinstate them into their desired courses of study.
“I saw Fisheries when I was filling my JAMB form and I did not choose it,” he said.
“If they don’t give me the Medicine and Surgery that I applied for and passed the exams, I’ll just have to drop out and, maybe, write JAMB again. That would mean I’ll probably start 100 level again in the next three years.”