Background of the study
The realization that education is an instrument for national development has compelled the federal government of Nigeria to make education accessible to every Nigerian irrespective of the socio-economic background. For instance there is provision for all levels of education starting from the primary to the tertiary level. With the recognition of education as a veritable key to individual and national development clamour for education especially tertiary education has increased in the recent times.
The general societal expectation on a university student is high. Under normal circumstance; an average undergraduate student should face academic studies with ease. He should be able to pass his courses without embarking on any form of examination malpractice because of his numerous experiences in public examinations he has passed through before gaining admission. In Nigeria, university students are expected to be sound academically. They are expected to have sat for the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (SSCE) as an achievement test and pass at the minimum requirement and have also presented themselves for Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) Examination as a selection test and pass at acceptable cut-off point before being offered admission into the University (Salim, 2006).
Despite these public examinations that Nigerian undergraduates do go through; academic performance among university students are far below expectations most especially in the last one and half decades. Many students hardly pass all their first year courses, majority of those who successfully do so, have poor grades. Greater percentage of university graduates in Nigeria today fall below Second Class Upper division; the number of spillover students in various departments are on a high increase. The situation is now worse as those who even manage to graduate are not productive in the labor market because they fail to meet the expectation of the employers (Ajaja, 2010).
The mode of admission of candidates into first degree programmes in the universities is in three major forms. These include admission through the direct entry, admission through the universities matriculation examination (U.M.E) and admission through the pre-degree programme. Admissions through the universities matriculation examination (UME) and direct entry are being handed by the joint admissions and matriculations Board while admission and through the pre-degree programme is being handed by the universities themselves (Akper and Fagbongbe (1999).
In Nigeria, it is glaring that the university is regarded as the most important industry for the production of high – level manpower and the capstan of the entire educational system. University training, according to University matriculation examination (1997) aimed at raising the intellectual tone of society, cultivating the public mind, purifying the National taste, supplying the principles of popular aspirations and giving enlargement and sobriety to ideas of the age. It is not surprising them that stakeholders in University of the education tend to guard jealously the integrity of the University and the quality of graduates produced.
It is on record that Nigerian Universities. These graduates have distinguished themselves in their areas of specialization so much that some of them are now professors in the best Universities across the globe. This attestation is futile resounding more so that quality entrants transformed into quality graduates.
In recent years, however, the accolade attached to Nigerian Universities seems to have faded away. This is informed the flood of criticism that beckoned the admission procedures and quality of graduates produced. In the keynote address delivered at the first education submit of Oyo state held in Ibadan, Okebukola (2006) decried the quality of graduates produced in Nigerian Universities especially in the last four years and thumbed would graduate in the next three years.
An important issues when trying to understand why graduates from Nigerian Universities are devalued in academic quality in looking at the various entry modes of the entrants and distinguishing which of them provides the desired academic standard. Currently, most Nigerian Universities admit Candidates into science courses on the basis of their performance in either the Universities Matriculation Examination (UME) conducted by the joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Advanced level Examination or its equivalence in relevant science subject for Direct entry (DE) into 200 level or the pre-degree science (P D S), strictly controlled by the Universities running such a programme.
For Nigeria to realize her developmental goals in science and technology, quality entrants into science courses in Nigerian Universities must be meticulously selected using valid and credible entry mode so that those selected might have expected academic competencies to pursue the chose courses. This study therefore compare between academic performances of students admitted through University matriculation Examination (UME) and student admitted through Direct Entry (DE) with a view to identifying the best mode for selecting quality entrant into mathematics in Nigerian Universities.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Despite the importance of Integrated Science, it is very important to note that the students admitted through University matriculation Examination (UME) into the Integrated Science department perform differently from students admitted through Direct entry (DE).
The focus of this study therefore is to compare and determine which mode of entry into the Universities is the best for Integrated Science in University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ikere-Ekiti Campus.