Students to miss their dream courses at public universities

Students to miss their dream courses at public universities
Graduates at a graduation ceremony last year.
Graduates at a graduation ceremony last year.

Out of the 114,380 candidates who sat for Senior Six examinations last year (2012), only 61,479 (53.8 percent) got the required two principle passes for one to be admitted at any university, up from 65,417 candidates (64.0 percent) in 2012, according to Senior six results released early this year.

Although 53.8 qualified for university admission, many might be left out because of poor subject combination resulting from lack of proper career guidance by their teachers and parents.

Students who offered Biology, Chemistry and Agriculture as principal subjects will not be admitted for a bachelors course in Medicine, according to Charles Ssentongo, the deputy Academic Registrar in charge of admissions at Makerere University.

“The student could have chosen Physics in that case but since the teachers never played their part, we will give that candidate a zero for selecting a wrong subject for the course,” Ssentongo said.

Selection of subject combinations is normally done at Senior Five but many students hardly get relevant career guidance from their teachers and parents and many end up choosing subjects they find easy to pass.

New grading System: But starting this academic year 2014/15, students joining university will be subjected to a new grading system.

This follows the introduction of two other subjects at Advanced Level; Sub-Mathematics and Computer Studies.

It means students who did science combinations or combinations having Economics, were required to add Sub-Mathematics as a subsidiary.

However, those who did Mathematics were exempted from Sub-Mathematics.

For a student to join university, the admissions board considers the core subjects for a particular course which the student applied for.

The same new guidelines will apply to students on the private programme in the public universities, although the cut-off points may vary from one university to another.

Students who obtained an overall Grade of 7,9,Y or Z at O’Level don’t qualify for university admission since the guidelines favour only those who passed at least five subjects at O’level without a Grade 9.

How the Weighting criteria works: A computerised weighting system is used. The points depend on the number of applicants per course and the capacity of the faculties available in a given university.

Under the new weighting criteria which will be applied starting with this year , all subjects pursued at Senior Six are grouped into three categories; essential which has a weight of 3, relevant (2) and desirable (1).

For a given candidate, not more than three subjects taken at principal level- carry a weight of three, two or one. Not more than two principal subjects are designated as essential.

A pass with a Distinction or Credit in a subject taken at subsidiary level such as General Paper, Sub-Maths or Computer Studies, shall carry one point. A subsidiary pass ranges from grades 1 -6. For example, if the cut-off points for Medicine are 54 and a candidate scored AAAB in Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Sub-Maths and a distinction in General Paper. At A-Level, A carries six points , B five, C-four, D-three, E-two , O-one and F-O points .

Admissions: The list if students admitted on government sponsorship is yet to be out though some Public universities like Mbarara university of Science and Technology (MUST) and Gulu University have already started admitting students on private sponsorship scheme.

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