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Universities ‘failing to mark down students’ for poor writing skills

Universities

Universities ‘failing to mark down students’ for poor writing skills

Universities and colleges are failing to mark down students for poor spelling, grammar and punctuation, which is leading to grade inflation because of a misguided application of equalities legislation, according to England’s higher education regulator.

After a review of assessment policies at five institutions, the Office for Students (OfS) said it feared that staff being allowed to ignore errors in students’ written work was “widespread”. It warned that it was willing to punish universities for failing to tackle poor writing skills.

The review follows cases this year of institutions using “inclusive assessment” policies more widely, and only taking quality of writing into account in courses where it was deemed to be critical, leading to condemnation from ministers.

Susan Lapworth, the OfS’s director of regulation, said: “The common features we have seen in assessment policies suggest that poor spelling, punctuation and grammar may be accepted across the sector. In publishing this report, we are being clear with universities and colleges that we want to see change.

“Effective assessment should take into account all aspects of a student’s work, and this includes their ability to express themselves effectively and correctly in written English.”

The OfS said its inspectors “analysed examples of assessed student work from a range of modules and disciplines”, along with marking criteria and staff comments, to identify how “language accuracy” was being assessed in practice.

It said it found “common themes that gave us cause for regulatory concern”, including interpretations of the Equality Act and similar legislation made by several universities to justify not assessing proficiency in written English for all students.

“As a consequence, it appears that accurate use of spelling, punctuation and grammar is not assessed for many students at these providers, and in some cases its assessment is explicitly not permitted.

“Compliance with this legislation does not in our view justify removing assessment of written proficiency in English for all students,” the OfS stated.

“We would expect providers to assess spelling, punctuation and grammar for most students and courses.”

The regulator also suggested that poor assessment practices “could be an indicator of wider concerns” about institutions, with low standards partly behind the increasing proportion of top class degrees being awarded.

“If the policies and approaches identified in this report are leading to students getting higher marks than they otherwise would, for instance because poor proficiency in written English is not being routinely assessed, then this not only undermines the rigour of assessment processes, but also contributes to unexplained grade inflation,” the review said.

The OfS added that it would “test this hypothesis” through further investigation.

However, critics said the OfS’s review of five case studies was too narrow and that such assessment policies were unlikely to be widespread among the more than 400 institutions registered with the regulator.

Universities UK, which represents more than 140 mainstream higher education institutions, said: “Universities fully recognise the importance of English language proficiency and effective communication skills. Their courses and assessments are designed to assess a wide range of skills and knowledge.

“As the OfS notes, this report refers to a small number of universities. The OfS also recognises that practices will differ across the large and diverse university sector, and there is no evidence in what has been presented to suggest the practices causing concern are the norm.”

Michelle Donelan, the universities minister for England, said: “The government is determined to drive up standards at universities so that every student can benefit from a quality education which leads to good outcomes, and it is right that the Office for Students is putting universities that disregard poor written English on notice.”

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Education

2024 UTME notification slip ready for printing – JAMB

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has directed candidates, who registered for the 2024 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) to print their notification slips for examination.
The board disclosed this in a statement in Abuja on Thursday by its Spokesperson, Dr Fabian Benjamin.
He said the 2024 UTME notification slip, which showed the date, venue and time of their examination, was ready for printing.
“All candidates, who have registered for the 2024 UTME scheduled to start on Friday, April 19, are urged to print their notification slips before the date.
“This is for them to know the date, venue and time of their respective examinations as well as some other vital information.
“To print the slip, candidates are to visit the JAMB website: www.jamb.gov.ng; click on “2024 UTME Slip Printing”, input their registration number, then click on print.
“The slip can be printed anywhere provided there is an internet-enabled computer,” he said.
He added that to successfully sit the examination, candidates were advised to print on or before Friday, 19th April.
This he explained was to enable them locate the venue of their centre, to prevent lateness on their scheduled examination date.
Recall that the 2024 UTME is scheduled to start on Friday, April 19 and end on Monday, April 29.
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Education

Tinubu appoints management team, education loan fund

President Bola Tinubu has approved the appointment of the three qualified Nigerians to serve on the management team of the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND).

A statement issued on Friday by Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity) said the appointment is in line with the president’s determination to secure Nigeria’s socio-economic future by ensuring sustainable higher education and critical skill development for all Nigerian students and the youth.

Those appointed are;

(1) Mr. Akintunde Sawyerr – Managing Director/CEO

(2) Mr. Frederick Oluwafemi Akinfala – Executive Director, Finance and Administration

(3) Mr. Mustapha Iyal – Executive Director, Operations

With the appointment of the management team, the President expects that the necessary apparatuses are expeditiously put in place for the effective take-off of this pivotal Fund for the immediate and lasting benefit of Nigerian students and families in all parts of the country.

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Education

Ekiti targets zero percent out-of-school children, says Gov Oyebanji at EKSU convocation

Ekiti State Governor, Mr Biodun Oyebanji, has restated the commitment of his administration to ensuring that every child in the state has access to quality and compulsory education, noting that education remains a weapon in ensuring social, political, and economic growth of any society.

Governor Oyebanji made this known on Wednesday at the 28th convocation ceremony of the Ekiti state university, Ado Ekiti just as the newly inducted Chancellor of the University, Dr Tunji Olowolafe, announced a one billion naira agribusiness empowerment fund for products of the institution as a way to boost agriculture and food security.

Governor Oyebanji who attended the EKSU convocation as the first alumnus of the school to become Governor of the state and Visitor to the University, said his government remains committed to ensuring that educational institutions in the state were capable of competing with their peers globally.

Governor Oyebanji said his administration has demonstrated commitment to development of education sector from primary to tertiary institutions which include renovation of more than 200 secondary schools, distribution of laptops to students across the state, disbursement bursary and scholarship to students of Ekiti origin in tertiary institutions of learning including Law School, increment of subvention to all state owned tertiary institutions, among others.

Recalling that Ekiti was recently ranked as the highest in school enrollment in the country, the Governor assured that his government would continue to ensure the state has zero percent out-of-school children across the country.

While appreciating the University’s governing council and management for being a partner in progress, the Governor called for more conscious, creative, ingenious and concerted development of strategies for generating additional funds so as to reduce dependence on government subventions.

Governor Oyebanji also urged the University management to justify the increase in their subvention by showing greater commitment to work, avoid incessant strike actions, and allow for smooth running of the academic calendar so that students were not unduly delayed.

While congratulating the graduands, Oyebanji charged them to always remember to give back to their alma-mata.

“We are gathered here today to celebrate scholarship, success, and the result of hard work. As we all know, education remains a weapon in ensuring social, political, and economic growth in any society.

“This is why we will continue to support the education sector. We are committed to ensuring our educational institutions are of the highest standards that can compete globally.

“A demonstration of this commitment can be seen in our various interventions in the sector from primary to tertiary institutions. It is, therefore, a thing of pride to note that Ekiti is ranked one of the highest in school enrollment in Nigeria and one of the states with the least out-of-school children with 2.5%. We are working hard to ensure we have 0% out-of-school children in our state.

“Just a few months ago, we increased the subventions to all Ekiti State – owned tertiary institutions, including the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital significantly.

“As much as the government is ready to continue to play its part in the funding of tertiary education of the state, the university must find ways and means of supplementing whatever the government is able to give.

“There must be conscious, creative, ingenious, and concerted development of strategies for generating additional funds so as to reduce dependence on government subventions”. The Governor stated.

Earlier, in his address, the newly inaugurated Chancellor of the University, Dr. Tunji Olowolafe, who appreciated the Governor for the opportunity to serve, pledged his unflinching commitment to the growth and development of the institution.

Dr. Olowolafe, a trained medical doctor turned businessman announced a one billion naira innovation fund to empower agro-technology companies founded by the latest graduands and current students of the institution.

This is in addition to the establishment of an endowment agenda to offer support and subsidies for up to 30 academic staff members so as to facilitate their participation in international conferences, training sessions, and research activities as well as creation of a platform for 100 of the brightest students from EKSU to engage in resourceful and sustainable work for skills acquisition and development.

Dr Olowolafe noted that it has become imperative for graduates and undergraduates in Nigeria to get actively involved in activities geared towards supporting food security , innovation and strategic entrepreneurship in the current circumstance.

He suggested that students take land lease arrangements for agricultural purposes adding that special awards could also be given to outstanding agriculture entrepreneurs in addition to academic honours.

“Mr. Vice Chancellor sir, as we give awards to best academic students, we can also give awards to best agro entrepreneurs on campus. Some can do grains while others do vegetables. Some can do poultry whilst others can do fisheries. Some can even do logistics whilst others do apps.”
He stated.

He urged the graduands and undergraduates to endeavour to take a needs assessment of their environments to see resources that could be tapped into emphasising that youths need to think wider than their narrow fields of study.

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