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Roadblocks On Medical Students Way. by TRAY2(m): 3:03pm On Feb 24, 2016
After one year of their admission to read Medicine at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), some students are lamenting being forced to change their courses. The university says its hands are tied by the new directives of the professional bodies, especially the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN).

Their intention is to read Medicine and they were admitted into the University of Lagos (UNILAG) for the course. But after completing their first year, they can no longer continue with the course. Why? New directive by the professional bodies, especially the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) pegging the number of medical students to be admitted by universities. Universities are given index numbers only for the number of students they have facilities to train.

So, UNILAG cannot accommodate all those admitted for its medical programme at the start of the 2014/2015 academic session in October 2014. It has only space for 130 students.

More than 50 students who started the session last November by attending 200-Level courses at the College Medicine, UNILAG (CMUL) at Idi-Araba, have been reassigned courses in the Faculties of Sciences, Social Sciences and Education.

The crossover students, as they are called, were admitted through the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and the University Foundation Programme (UFP), as well as degree holders admitted through Direct Entry (DE).

After spending a year on the main campus in Akoka, they were to cross to CMUL at Idi Araba to continue their studies under its three main faculties: Basic Medical Sciences (Biochemistry, Medical Laboratory Sciences, Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, Pharmacology and Physiology); Clinical Sciences (MBBS, Physiotherapy, and Nursing); and Dental Sciences. This is no longer so.

The forced change was a blow to many students who did not understand why they were not “promoted” despite meeting the stipulated benchmark stated in the students’ handbook: a minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 2.0 and/or 50 per cent pass in each of their physical, biological and chemical courses (50:50:50).

They accused the University of being unfair and biased towards candidates that came through the UFP because they paid as high as N500,000 for the programme.

However, the university refuted the claims, explaining that the numbers were reduced according to the quota given by the regulators.

The students’ lamentations
Many students told The Nation that the first sign of trouble ahead came when the Sub Dean of Faculty of Science, Dr Ade Ademilua, told them the benchmark had changed few days to the second semester examinations of their first session. However, they did not think much of it.

When the new session started last December, they started shuttling between Akoka and Idi-araba for lectures. They only knew something was amiss in January when their names were not among those to continue in Idi-iraba. They were told to go back to the main campus.

One of the affected students, simply called Ariyo, was moved to the Science and Technology Education department. She was particularly pained that the list came out after she had spent a lot buying books for her medical programme.

“I already moved into the college of medicine and was squatting with my seniors. I bought text books worth almost N10, 000, registered for laboratories, bought lab coat. The list of names came out late so we already started receiving lectures. Because we met the cut off marks we were confident. Only for the list to be released and my name was in education, under science and technology, which means I remain at Akoka. I could not believe it. In fact, I could not talk to my parents,” said Ariyo, who was originally admitted to study Physiology after two tries at UTME.

For Olumide, Microbiology, his new course, is not even an option he wants to consider because he lacks interest in it. He is so dissappointed that he has refused to attend classes.

He said: “After first semester, I had a GPA of 3.65. It was not good enough but I was well above the criteria of 50:50:50 for medicine so I tried not to be too bothered. My father was angry and afraid I would not make it. I also worked harder in second semester.

“When second semester results came in, the first thing we noticed was that they had cut so many people’s marks down. People failed more in second semester and many others had mistaken results recorded for them so we had to go and clarify. This was in January. Then the amended broadsheet came out in February and I had a 3.42 CGPA. It was not so good but I was still higher than the 50:50:50 cut off. So I did not pick a change of course form like people who did not do well did. I was confident. Only for the list of those crossing over to come out and my name was in Microbiology.

“My whole family is very angry with me. My dad is angry but my mum is even angrier. They all said I did not read. I have explained what happened several times but they are not even listening to me anymore. I don’t know where to start from now because I cannot do Microbiology. It is not what I want. I don’t like it and if I do it, I won’t pass it. JAMB (UTME) form has closed already so I am just stuck and I am not attending lectures. People have been asking why I am still at home and I keep saying we have not resumed. Everyone already believes I am studying medicine.”

Another victim, Iheanacho, has a more pathetic story having left the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), where he was already studying Microbiology for UNILAG when he was admitted for Radiography. In all, he has lost three years.

“With a CGPA of 2.25 as against the 2.0, I am qualified to move into the college of medicine to study my course, Radiography. I am supposed to be graduating from the department of Microbiology in UNN this year. But I felt fortunate when I gained admission into UNILAG to study a medical course during my 100-Level at UNN so I gladly moved. But looking at what is happening now. I am seriously regretting my decision. It was not easy gaining this admission. I left UNN last two years and came here. Then I had to repeat 100-Level here because I did not meet up to the 2.0 cut off mark to proceed to the college of medicine and I stayed. If I wanted to move to another department when I was told to repeat the year, I could have, but I stayed because I was determined. After repeating one year and I finally merited the criteria, they don’t want to allow us have our right. My name was not even in any of the lists.

“I feel very bad about this. It is total injustice. I am pleading with the management of the school and the public to please intervene so that UNILAG would not jeopardise our future. I cannot tell my parents about this because they would be very sad. Some people’s parents have disowned them based on this.”

On her part, another victim, Bimbola (not real names), claimed the university favoured UFP students (popularly called Diploma students) over the UTME counterparts.

“Some people had 60/60/70 and they are not there; some people had a CGPA of 4.0 and they are not there. Medicine and surgery used 4.11. They picked 16 people from UTME and over 80 people from their Diploma (UFP). Then Nursing picked 70 from Diploma and 27 from UTME; and Dentistry 17 from Diploma 15 from UTME; and Physiotherapy picked 50 from , and 33 from UTME,” she said.

University’s Response
Contrary to the students’ claims of unfair treatment, the Vice Chancellor, Prof Rahamon Bello, and the Provost, CMUL, Prof Folashade Ogunsola, said the students are being saved from heartache of continuing in the programme only not to be registered by the professional bodies at the end of their studies because of the regulators’ insistence on indexing each student.

Explaining the school’s dilemma to The Nation, Prof Rahamon said the institution has been forced to reduce its students according to the quota given by the MDCN.

He said: “The medical school has been over admitting; so they (regulators) have now given an order that they should stop or drop the accreditation, which means that the doctors will not be able to practice. We had to go into agreement with them on how to do it; so we had to reduce the number that would go for this year and the next five years. We have had to reduce to about 130 – that is why there is an issue,” he said.

On her part, Prof Ogunsola said the enforcement has become stricter this session than previously.

“The professional bodies give us quotas they have been enforcing slowly. This year, it affects all professions, not just medical. It is all of them: nursing, physiotherapy, radiography, medicine, medical laboratory science. And what they have done also is that we have index numbers. Those index numbers are given to you at 200-Level and they will not give you more than your quota. So if you don’t have an index number and we take you, we will not register you at the end,” she said.

Prof Ogunsola also explained that the benchmark noted in the handbook was an eligibility criteria, not that the students that met them had to be taken.

“It is not an automatic thing; they are just misrepresenting the issue. Some of them made 2.5 but did not pass 50:50:50 so they are not saying all that; and that is not it. It is not the CGPA, it is how many we can take so we drew a line. We did not go by ‘we are taking 3.5 this year.’ We can only have 40 people in nursing so where the number was 40 we drew the line,” she said.

The two principal officers also refuted claims that Foundation students were favoured over UTME students.

Prof Bello said the cut-off for Foundation was the highest the university has used in years.

“It is not true. The Foundation students had quota just like others. If I tell you what may have happened, all of them scored 16 Aggregate in the A Levels. In the past we used to take people with 13 Points. This year we could not take anybody less than 16 points,” he said.

Regarding favouring Foundation, Prof Ogunsola said: “The other claim is that we favoured Foundation but we didn’t because we knew this before so we had cut down what was coming from Foundation; so definitely we were taking more from 100-Level. We were duty bound to take Direct Entry so we took some DE and some Foundation,” she said.

In defending the students’ cause, the Student Union President of the institution, Muhammed Olaniyan, said the union is talking with the university to change them to courses of their choice.

“If the MDCN is saying they cannot admit 150 students, then sincerely, there is nothing the management can do. Where the management is at fault is that when they got this information they would have passed it to the students.

“We felt we needed to dialogue and we sat together: any student that says he wants to study medicine, let us know; any student that feels aggrieved and says ‘No, I don’t want Education,’ let us know; write down the department you want. But if the department is full you have to write a department that is not full. We got the list; we told management not to share them into anyhow departments,” he said.
Source:The nation

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