No tests, no examinations, just a brief individual appearance before a panel.
“They didn’t ask any questions,” said a student who put in for microbiology.
“It wasn’t like an interview. They just looked at my result, looked at my score and other papers, then they said we will hear from them.”
Only candidates were let through school gates and shuttled aboard buses to the screening venue on order of the school authorities.
They had to present an original of their matriculation result slip and a N1,000 bank draft for the screening.
Uniabuja opted to screen prospective students instead of conduct internal post-matriculation tests for its own reasons – to deal with the rising population of prospective candidates.
“This is not the first time we are doing that,” said the school’s information officer, Garba Waziri. The school has opted for screening in lieu of exams for the second straight academic year.
This year, only candidates with matriculation test score of 180 and above were eligible for Uniabuja’s internal screening.
The numbers it dealt with this year are not immediately available, but the school sources say Uniabuja got more candidates coming “to register”.
The screening was a barrier to sieve through categories of students using administrative means and cut down later work for its academic units.
“You are just reducing the work of the departments by doing the screening,” Waziri said. “You screen them for papers.”
The school insists its screening is not a rubber stamp for admission, hence its insistence on a 180-score threshold. Waziri said without care, students could be admitted and “by the time he comes for the proper screening, you discover he is not qualified.”
But the two-day screening last week was only a first stage “to ensure their papers are in good order,” he said. “That is, that they have the requirements and combination for the courses they have chosen. You also discover some of them came when they were not our candidates, they didn’t choose the university and didn’t score up to 180.
“All these people were turned back. This is part of the screening. By the time we finish and the admission proper starts, you will know that those you have admitted have required papers.”
A second stage of screening is expected on offer of admission.
The decision to screen and not test this year comes on the heels of ongoing strike by Academic Staff Union of Universities.
Uniabuja got around the hassle of ongoing strike by making its screening a non-academic exercise, negating need for lecturers to set and grade test scripts.
It is the second school to attempt internal matriculation screening in the face of ongoing strike after the union dissociated from UNIJOS on account of its staging a screening.
But the effectiveness of post-matriculation tests have been questioned since they were introduced.
One research compared the performance of students admitted into university through post-matriculation tests against students who got into school without benefit of post-matriculation tests by comparing their scores at entry and their class of degrees at the end of the score.
It found a low relationship between student scores in matriculation tests organised by the Joint Admissions Matriculation Board (JAMB) and scores in post-matriculation tests organised internally by universities before admission.
It also found that post-matriculation tests were more effective than matriculation tests though the difference was little, according to the author of the study, Joseph Osakuade, in a 2011 research published in the Journal of Education Practice.
Concern about opting for non-test screening is that the rationale lacks academic justification, except for administrative convenience. But concern also does not address any differences in performances that have shown up since post-matriculation testing came into effect.
The two-day screening made brisk business for traders who bought N1000 bank drafts – a requirement for access – and sold them to candidates at the gates for up to N2,500.
Candidates said commercial banks also jacked up prices on drafts, charging up to N1700.