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Will you make it to university this year?

By Vision Reporter

Added 26th February 2009 03:00 AM

THE competition for state scholarships at university is likely to get stiffer this year, following improved performance at A’level. This assumption is based on the fact that public universities last year raised points for admission to 85 of the 93 cours

THE competition for state scholarships at university is likely to get stiffer this year, following improved performance at A’level. This assumption is based on the fact that public universities last year raised points for admission to 85 of the 93 cours

By Carol Natukunda

THE competition for state scholarships at university is likely to get stiffer this year, following improved performance at A’level.

This assumption is based on the fact that public universities last year raised points for admission to 85 of the 93 courses.

This trend is likely to continue this year at the universities of Makerere, Kyambogo, Gulu, Busitema and Mbarara.

Beside, in the last five years, some courses raised the entry mark fourfold. For instance, in 2002, points for law rose from 50 to 54.3; pharmacy from 48.5 to 51.5, medicine from 42.9 to 49.6; electrical engineering from 47.6 to 51.9, while computer science rose from 40.1 to a whooping 47.8. Although 65% of the candidates qualify to join university, having scored a minimum of two principle passes, only 4,000 of them will be luck to get government scholarships.

Last year, Makerere admitted 2,000 students, Kyambogo 900, Gulu 500 and Busitema 200. Seventy-five per cent of the scholarships are allocated for science and technology courses while only 25% go to humanities.

Experts attribute the rise in the cutoffs to the increase in the number of students applying for particular courses, which may not have many slots.

“This means there are more students applying for the courses, yet the slots may not be available. So competition becomes stiff,” said the assistant executive director of the National Council for Higher Education, Yeko Acato.

Officials at the Joint Admissions Board said entry points vary from one university to another in an attempt to fight regional inequality. For instance, a course in Gulu may have a lower cut-off than the same course at Makerere.

The Weighting criteria

Because of the high competition, the board has to use a weighting system in selecting the candidates. All subjects taken at A’level are grouped into four categories; essential, relevant, desirable, and others.

Essential subjects are normally the best two performed subjects, and are weighted three points, while the relevant subject is the third-best and is weighted two. The fourth subject weighs 0.5, while a subsidiary subject like General Paper takes one point.

Performance in a subject is graded from A to E, with F representing failure and O standing for just one point. The highest possible score is an A, which earns a candidate six points and five points if he scores a B. A score of C carries 4 points, D has 3 points while E and O carry two and one point respectively.

Students with disabilities are given special consideration. Female candidates are also given a free 1.5 points for affirmative action. If for instance a candidate scored 1AABB, here is how, to calculate the weights
A – 6X3 = 18
A – 6X3 = 18
B – 5 X 2 = 10
B – 5 x 0.5 = 2.5
Total = 49.5 (Plus one point for GP)

O’ level results are also considered in the weighting. A distinction carries 0.3 of a point, while a credit and a pass weighs 0.2 and 0.1 respectively. These are all added up to determine admission of a student to a course.

Will you make it to university this year?

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