Some graduating students of the University of Ibadan have decried the Nigeria’s premier university management’s decision to ban all, except first class graduates, from its 2021 Convocation ceremony.
The university on Monday held its Convocation and Award Ceremony for the First Degrees at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, with only the first class graduates allowed in.
The institution had earlier announced that only first class graduands and their parents would be allowed into the Convocation Hall.
However, some of the graduands with lower grades were seen in the university’s academic regalia taking pictures with their friends and families.
Those, who spoke with NAN, said that they felt cheated out of a very important milestone in their lives, describing the university’s action as “discriminatory and damning”.
One of the graduating students from the Faculty of Social Science, who simply gave his name as Bayo, said that he felt demoralised.
“The university asked us to pay all convocation fees, but told us at the same time that we are not good enough to attend out own convocation ceremony.
“I bagged a Second Class Upper after spending close to seven years on school for a four-year degree; so you can’t tell me I didn’t earn the right to be in the hall with other coursemates and friends.
“What message are they trying to pass across, that we are not good enough?
“I am grateful that my parents are not condemning me in spite of this,” he said.
Another of the graduands seen lurking around the convocation grounds, Yemi of the Faculty of Arts, said that the university was only trying to create unhealthy rivalry among the graduands.
Also commenting, Jeremiah Bunmi, a graduand of the Department of Psychology, said that the university did what it thought was best in order to keep the graduating students and their families safe.
“I am excited to be one of the graduands of this reputable institution.
“I think they did what they thought is best for everyone, especially pertaining to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Bunmi said.
NAN reports that the university had earlier announced that it would restrict the weeklong 2021 Convocation and 73rd Foundation Day ceremonies due to the risk posed by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
It said that inviting over seven thousand graduates and parents, guardians with their well-wishers into the venue would amount to flouting the rules and protocols of the Federal Government of Nigeria governing COVID-19.
The university had invited only first class graduands and awardees to the ceremonies.
In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kayode Adebowale, said that a total of 8,474 candidates would be awarded for various Degrees and Diplomas.
Adebowale said that the university was ranked number one in Nigeria and West Africa, seventh in Africa and top 500 globally in the Times Higher Education World University Ranking, 2021.
“After the university contended with industrial action, there came further disruption in our academic calendar as a result of the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, which led to the closure of our great institution.
“In view of the problem posed by the pandemic, we opted for the alternative visual-classroom learning after the last convocation ceremony.
“It is cheering that despite the news of the third wave of the pandemic, the university has successfully completed another session and our final year students for 2018/2019 session have successfully completed their academic programmes.
“Some are participating physically, while most are joining virtually.
“Today, our graduands are from the Faculty of Arts, Science, Basic Medical Sciences, Clinical Sciences, Dentistry Agriculture, the Social Science, Education, Renewable Natural Resources, Distance Learning Centres, the affiliated, Technology, Law and Pharmacy.
“A breakdown of the list shows that approximately 3.1 per cent and 25. 5 per cent of our students finished with First Class and Second Class Upper Divisions Honours respectively.
“These outcomes are noteworthy, showing a lot of more significant improvements in the academic performance of our graduating students
“These graduands, who are being awarded the various degrees, have kept to the oath to which they subscribed during their matriculation.
“I charge you to be creative, courageous, enterprising and technologically sound.
“I urge you to acquire employability and professional skills in addition to your educational prowess; do not be afraid, but be focussed and be determined and success will be yours,” he said.