Nigerian senate says minimum age for university admission remains 16

The Nigerian Senate has clarified that there are no changes to the 16-year requirement for admission into tertiary institutions.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Adeyemi Adaramodu, stated the Senate’s position in an interview in Abuja, stating that the speculations about an upward review are just rumors.

Senate president, Godswill Akpabio

According to him, the comments made by a Senator stating that 18 years is the new minimum are simply the Senator’s personal opinion.

Adaramodu explained that any change to an existing law must pass through the legislative process in order to be valid. 

Recall, the Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, last week unveiled a proposal by the federal government to review the admission requirement age from 16 years to 18 years. 

He spoke during a monitoring visit to centres conducting the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) in Abuja.

He had advised parents against pushing their children and wards “too much,” to allow them to attain some level of maturity to be able to better manage their affairs.

Mamman  said, “The other thing which we notice is the age of those who have applied to go to the university.

“Some of them are really too young. We are going to look at it because they are too young to understand what a university education is all about.

“That’s the stage when students migrate from a controlled environment where they are in charge of their own affairs. So if they are too young, they won’t be able to manage properly. That accounts for some of the problems we are seeing in the universities.

“We are going to look at that. Eighteen is the entry age for university but you will see students, 15, and 16, going to the examination. It is not good for us. Parents should be encouraged not to push their wards, or children too much,” he had said.

Members of the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) also last week, declared support for federal government’s move. 

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFund, Senator Muntari Dandutse, spoke when he led other members of the committee as well as its House of Representatives counterpart on monitoring the ongoing UTME in some examination centres as the lawmakers’ oversight function.

However, the Senate Spokesman while explaining the red chamber’s position on the issue said, “comments on the minimum age requirement for admission is not a law. 

“So, it is just an opinion. It’s not a law. Now that the Senate has resumed, whoever wants to bring that one out to make it a law, will now bring it and then the procedures will take place.

“You can bring whatever to the floor in form of a bill. When you bring it, there’s going to be public hearing.

“All the stakeholders will sit down and talk about it. The parents, teachers, legislators, civil society organisations, even foreign organisations.

“We will sit down and we talk. Even if they say that the minimum age should be 30 or 12 we will all discuss it at an open forum. So it’s still a comment which cannot be taken to be the law.”

The Senate Spokesman also denied speculations that the Minister of Education had instructed the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board not to release results of applicants below 18 years.

He said, “There is nothing like that. When the prospective student bought their forms, there were no such  conditions.

“So when you have bought your forms under one condition, that condition cannot be initiated along the line until the current set of candidates have been successfully attended to.

“When the next engagement is to take place, then if it is brought even as an executive bill or personal or private bill or the public brings it as a bill, then the National Assembly will now sit down and then allow it to go to the crucible of lawmaking.

“This is a country, this is Nigeria. So all of us will sit down and deliberate.

“So, so far it is just a mere comment, it’s just an opinion. It is not law yet. So once something is not law, then there’s the level of jaw jaw that we can do. It’s not.” 

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