BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Higher education is very crucial for the socio-economic and technological development of any country. It provides the skilled manpower needed to transform the resources within that country into wealth [Okoro 2005]. This is achieved when higher education provides the right quality of training and skills required at the right quantity. Over the years, the number of persons applying to enter universities in Nigeria has been on the increase. However, just a fraction of these applicants are admitted each year. University and Colleges of Education admission in Nigeria is very competitive due to the high number of applicants vying for limited slots. It is thus expected that only the best will be admitted since academic merit is the major criteria used for admission.
Initially, each University and Colleges handled its admission process autonomously. As a result, there was variance in the criteria used as each adopted what was considered most appropriate for it. However over time, the need to harmonize admission processes across the country was realized. Consequently the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) were established to coordinate and standardize university admission processes in the country. The board conducted its first unified examination in1978.
Each course was given a cut-off mark which varied from one university to another. Meeting the prescribed cut-off mark for a course in a particular university thus qualified a candidate to be provisionally admitted. Admissions were however confirmed on the candidate obtaining good grades in prescribed subjects (which vary from course to course) at the end of their secondary school education. Results accepted are those organized by the West African Examination Council, (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO). The current practice now includes a post-JAMB assessment of candidates by the universities where they have been given provisional admission.
Over the years, there have been concerns about the correlation between the pre-admission qualification of students and their academic performance in the university. This appears to be a global source of concern in view of the ongoing debates and studies on the issue in different countries (Mlambo 2011). This project thus contributes to the debate by examining the relationship between pre-admission qualification and academic performance of Biology Education students in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka – a Government Owned University, Nigeria.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
There have been serious doubts on the integrity and validity of UTME and POST-UTME. Students, teachers and even agents of the examination bodies have been reported to have been caught in large scale examination malpractices during the conduct of the examinations. Consequent upon which, studies have shown that students who scored high in both examinations had performed very poorly in the Universities, Colleges of Education, other tertiary institutions final examinations. Expanding his study to include other extraneous social variables and academic admission criteria, Parveen Azam Ali (2008) in his study reported that academic factors considered in the admission criteria were better predictors of students’ academic performance than the non-academic factors.