Varsity vs Polytechnic Education: The Unending HND-BA/BSc Dichotomy

Varsity vs Polytechnic Education: The Unending HND-BA/BSc Dichotomy

…UTME may have worsened situation

With no more than 38 per cent of applicants sure to gain admission into the nation’s higher institutions this year, attention of students has started shifting from universities to polytechnics and colleges of education. The grass, however, is not greener on the other side as a large number of students still struggle for limited admission spaces.

For these students, the polytechnics and colleges of education are just a “how-for-do” option after unsuccessful attempts at securing university admission. This, coupled with discrimination against non-university degree holders by employers of labour does not bode well for the educational system.

While in office as President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on January 5, 2006, at a meeting with members of the House of Representatives Committee on Education and the then Minister of Education, Mrs. Chinwe Obaji, approved a policy, which reversed the discriminatory policy restricting holders of the Higher National Diploma (HND) from rising above Level 14 in the civil service, things are still not better in 2012.

Reason: the discrimination still persists, and thus, every student wants a university degree and would not even want to consider the HND in place of the BA/BSc.

Professor Godwin Onu, Rector, Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State, says that experience in the sector had taught him that more youths prefer gaining admission into universities than polytechnics or colleges of education.

“Only very few choose polytechnics as their first choice because of some particular courses and this can be attributed to societal values on varsity/polytechnic education. I’m not saying that the university is better than polytechnics or colleges of education, but I think if polytechnics are converted to polytechnic universities, it would solve most of these problems,” he said.

Commenting on the number of students that applied to the institution, the rector said: “We had about 74,000 applicants, but the school can only accommodate 4,000. Due to the insecurity in the North, there is now more pressure on schools in the South by students who are seeking admission.”

Speaking in like manner, Mr. Olu Akeusola, Provost, Michael Otedola College of Primary Education (MOCPED), Epe, Lagos State, opined that, “Nigerians will put education institutes in crisis if the discrimination against polytechnics and colleges of education continues.

“We know how to copy curriculum without implementing same. The theory and concept of the 6-3-3-4 system of education is that after a child has gone through compulsory six years of primary education and three years of junior secondary school, those who are educationally inclined would proceed to senior secondary while those who are not would opt for technical schools. From there, the technical students would proceed to polytechnics while those that went to senior secondary schools would go to universities to further their education.”

According to Akeusola, “this Post Unified Matriculation Examination (Post UME) into institutions of higher learning has compounded the problems because very few candidates would want to put a polytechnic or college of education as their first choice, and the universities don’t have the capacity to admit them all.”

With employers of labour, university degree holders are above others, little wonder many students see polytechnics and colleges of education as their last resort after waiting for admission for a long time.  “I’d rather rewrite my qualifying examinations than go to a college of education,” said Kelechi Obasi.

“Because universities are more recognised than polytechnics, I put in universities for my first and second choices. If I were to write the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Exams (UTME) again, I may just put a polytechnic for the sake of it.”

Although she has never applied to a polytechnic, Chiamaka Madueke told Vanguard Learning that she wouldn’t mind getting into a polytechnic as, according to her, all she wants is admission.

“Some people prefer universities because their certificates are more acceptable, but I don’t really mind a polytechnic though it’s impossible for me to go to a College of Education because I have no desire to be a teacher.”

Oluchi Okorie says she wouldn’t mind attending a polytechnic. However, she said: “It isn’t really on the top of my list. I want to go to a university, but if it doesn’t work out, then I’ll think of going to a polytechnic. It’s still a higher institution.”

Nzube Onyemaechi wants to study Mass Communication and he chose  Nnamdi Azikiwe University as his first choice and Lagos State University as second choice.

“After burning the midnight candle and studying for that post-UTME, my result was not released. In fact, I don’t know if I’m not meant to go to a university because my father says he can’t afford LASU’s tuition fees, but I have no other option but to hang on to Yaba College of Technology for admission this year. Though it’s a polytechnic, all I want is to be admitted this year as all my mates that left secondary school in 2010 are in school.”

However, for Sarah Ofor, it’s the university or nothing. According to her, this is the second year she will be pursuing admission into tertiary institution.

The polytechnic discrimination saga, coupled with the near loss of respect for the teaching profession, alongside nearly 800,000 frustrated students who will not get admission into any tertiary institution this year, stakeholders in the education sector have to roll up their sleeves for more work.


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