How delays in transcript processing cost us major academic admissions, truncated our plans –Graduates

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imageJANET OGUNDEPO writes about how graduates lost academic opportunities to delayed transcript processing from their alma mater All week-long, the atmosphere was filled with ecstasy; the final-year university students were sitting their final exams.To round off their studies, the final-year students agreed to don white T-shirts, denim and sneakers as it’s gradually becoming a norm these days.The stress of sleepless nights to study and several denials ended with their last papers.And those who graduated without ‘extra year’ would look forward to the joy of convocations.

But amid the tough realities is the anxiety laced with pressure that many graduates undergo in their alma mater trying to get transcripts for further studies either in another university in the country or abroad.The process in many of the institutions takes longer months and the delays end up in missed opportunities.Painful missed opportunities The length of time involved in the processing of transcripts and certificates is one of the many troubles graduates of some tertiary institutions in Nigeria face.This challenge is mostly posed to graduates who for further studies need the transcript which is a prerequisite for admission to higher programmes.

A transcript is a detailed record of a scholar’s marks or grades that has been generated by an alma mater and can either be generated on paper or online.For a graduate of the University of Benin, Edo State, Pete James, going for a master’s overseas was a desire he nursed during his undergraduate years.James got a programme which also offered a scholarship.Elated, he went to his alma mater to request a student copy and verified copy of his transcripts to be sent to the school.

He paid the required fees and the process began in earnest or so he thought.But it took the institution a long time to process his transcript and by the time it was ready, the one-month window for submission of the unofficial copy pending when his alma mater would send the verified copy was over.James lost the admission and scholarship opportunity.

Speaking with our correspondent, James said, “I lost an overseas admission and scholarship opportunity because I could not get my transcript from my alma mater on time.I applied for both the student and the verified copy but none was available before the deadline.It took me a year before I finally got it despite paying N42, 000 covering both official and unofficial fees.” Identities of the graduates have been protected because of victimisation.Applying for a job opportunity, sitting job tests and being called for interviews gladdened the heart of Aanuwatiti Ojay; a graduate of Yaba College of Technology.Unfortunately, the ecstasy was aborted when Ojay was asked to present his transcripts and certificate during the documentation process.He returned to his alma mater and started the process of getting the documents while resuming his application for a job.

What Ojay didn’t envisage was that the processing would take more than 14 months.As a result, he ended up losing three job opportunities.Ojay said, “I lost about three jobs because of the delay in the issuance of both my transcript and certificate.

It took me about one year and some months before I finally got both.’’ Another graduate, Dan Osas, who graduated from the University of Benin missed an opportunity to apply for master’s because he was unable to get his transcript on time.He said it took him six months before he could get it.Osas said, “I missed an opportunity to apply for the April/May academic session for my master’s programme.” In 2018, Wale Adekunle started the processing of his wife’s transcript from the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State.Five months after then, he got confirmation that his request had been received and was been processed.

But a year later the story didn’t change.Adekunle said, “We started the process in the first quarter of 2018 and paid N51,000 for the transcript at OOU.

After five months, we followed up and we were told that the issue of “some missing results’’ had been sent to the Department of Accounting but had not got any feedback.’’ It could be assumed that the story would be different for a former Commissioner for Information and Communications in Rivers State, Mrs Ibim semenitari, who had also once gone through the process of transcript collection from the University of Benin.Frustrated about the delay in getting the transcript coupled with the imminent registration deadline, she said she sent “two different teams to expedite the simple process” and later expressed her frustration about it on social media.Until now, she awaits the transcript.Semenitari said she applied for a reprint of her transcript from the UNIBEN in February.She further said she requested the electronic copy of her transcript to be sent to the postgraduate college of her intended school, adding that it had yet to be sent.

Semenitari said, “The first time (I collected a transcript) in 1997, it didn’t take too long.

I can’t remember how long it took.The second time in 2019 took some months but at least I got it.This time, I applied in February and I have yet to receive it.It is meant to be sent to the school where I have applied to for postgraduate.’’ Unlike others, the story is a bit different for a graduate identified only as Wolf who graduated from the University of Lagos.

Wolf told our correspondent that the delay in getting his transcript delayed his migration process, adding that the process took him 17 months.He said, “It took me one year and five months before I finally got my transcript and it delayed my entire migration process.” Besides, some graduates of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, have also complained about the delay in getting their transcripts.One of the graduates identified only as Adeyemi recounted the ordeal of a colleague who had applied for a transcript since 2019.He added that the response the graduate got was “they are searching for his results.” Two other graduates of the institution identified only as Isaac and Damilare told our correspondent that it was a tough task applying for transcripts to be sent to institutions within and outside the country.

In another vein, our correspondent gathered that graduates of Tai Solarin University don’t have access to a students’ copy of their transcripts.A source in the university said that after every session, students could access their results on the school’s portal.The source added that upon graduation, they didn’t have access to a students’ copy of their transcripts.The source further added that requests for transcripts were made on the school portal and transcripts are sent to only the receiving institutions.

A non-refundable sum of N20,000 is required for transcripts to be sent to academic institutions within Nigeria and N50,000 for those outside the country.Despite the processes, the source alleged that some graduates, after making the requests on the portal, still got their requests denied and their monies not refunded.

As a result, according to the source, one of the graduates, a lady, lost a scholarship opportunity.The easy way out After spending a year without getting his transcript, Ojay’s friend connected him with someone in the school.Ojay said, “Eventually, a friend linked me up with someone that holds a top position in the school.That person helped me to process my certificate which I got.The truth is if one doesn’t know someone who can help in some of the institutions’ Exam and Records Departments, nothing would be done to the requests.’’ On his part, Adekunle said after futile attempts, he got the contact of an individual in the transcript office who assisted in the issuance of the document last month.Wolf noted that the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities and non-academic staff members were given as reasons for the delay in processing the transcripts.

The trio of James, Osas, Ojay eventually got their transcripts at a time they were not urgently needed, they told our correspondent that the institutions didn’t tell them reasons for the delay.James said he paid N42,000 as unofficial fees, yet it took him a year to get the document.The story is also the same for Wolf.Both Osas and Ojay disclosed that they had to use someone in their schools to hasten the process.

Institutions defend processes Speaking on the issue, the Public Relations Officer, University of Benin, Dr Bendicta Ehanire, told our correspondent that the process was online, adding that it was easy and fast.Ehanire said, “It does not take time.You can easily do it online; it depends on the network and the availability of proper information that is required for the candidate to supply.Those are the issues.

I think you should interview the candidates applying for a transcript (because) the university has made it easy online.” She further stated that the facilities for transcript processing were being enhanced by the school management, stating that measures were being put in place to surmount challenges that occasionally arose.

She said, “The present administration under Prof Lilian Salami introduced the online application for transcripts (so that) anywhere one is in the world, you can apply for a transcript.

Also, facilities for transcript processing (are been) enhanced, deployment of software to all departments and or faculties for transcript processing and the introduction of student copy – transcript, i.e.students can now have their student copy -transcript after Senate’s approval.” Read Also [Varsities with satellite campuses produce poor graduates – Okebukola] [Graduates of affiliated institutions can observe NYSC, says AAUA VC] [Firm to train five young graduates] The UNIBEN PRO added, “Barring any technical challenges, there are proofs of people applying and having their transcripts dispatched between 48 and 72 hours.” On his part, the Public Relations Officer, Obafemi Awolowo University, Mr Biodun Olanrewaju, assured graduates of the institution that processing of transcripts would be done within a week.

Olanrewaju said, “We apologise to our graduates for the slight delay they might have encountered in the processing of their transcripts but the management has put machinery in motion to make sure that the transcript does not exceed a week and we have been doing that.So what is happening now is that we are trying to settle the backlog of transcript requests.The situation is now under control and normal.” The PRO also noted that the school no longer used the services of a firm it once outsourced transcript processing to, adding “our staff members are now in full control and applicants can apply on the dedicated website.’’ Also, the spokesperson for the Tai Solarin University of Education, Mrs Odubela Ayotunde, confirmed that graduates of the institution were not given the student copy of their transcripts.Ayotunde said, “We don’t give students a copy (of the transcript), that is the best practice everywhere.

Here in TASUED, every student has access to his or her portal where the details of the result are made available.A student who is diligent and careful will have access to his or her result every semester; that is like having a copy of your transcript already.The university will not issue transcripts to an individual student for the sake of credibility.It’s only issued to institutions that demand it.” Responding to the alleged claim that students whose transcripts were delayed missed academic deadlines for their postgraduate admission processes, the PRO noted that the delay was not the institution’s fault.She said, “The processing doesn’t take long once the information is available.

Depending on where it is going in the world, a maximum of three, four days, it should arrive.In TASUED, everything is automatic.It’s either the student did not fill in the request on time or did not go through the requested process because everything is online.

Some students will tell you that they are not able to make payments online and all sorts of excuses, when they delay in doing that, it is when we receive it (the application and payment) that they will react to it.There is usually no such delay from us except we didn’t get it on time.The student probably did not lodge the request on time.” The Deputy Registrar/Head of Public Relations, Yaba College of Technology, Joe Ejiofor, said transcript and certificate collection at the institution usually took 10 days.Ejiofor said, “It is not true that applicants who want the college’s certificates and transcripts wait for a year and more or get it faster when they go through a third party.In the transcript /certificate section, it is clearly and boldly written that applicants who patronise third parties for their transcripts/certificates do so at their peril.Getting the college transcripts/certificates takes 10 days minimum to collect.” He noted that applicants who experienced a delay did not provide the correct details or information.He added, “Most delays are caused by the applicants themselves, especially those applying online, through inconclusive registration.Also, many provide inaccurate destinations or email addresses which make it difficult to reach them when there are hitches.

There are packs of transcripts returned to us by courier services as a result of inaccurate addresses provided by the applicants.The certificate/transcript section is strategic in the college and members of staff have been trained to provide optimum services to applicants (who are our distinguished alumni).” Academics’ comment on the issue Commenting on the issue, a lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Delta State University, Dr Edward Okumagba, highlighted non-digitalisation of the university system and students applying for their transcripts in proxy as factors that caused delay in transcript issuance and processing in tertiary institutions.

Okumagba said, “I think the graduates have various complaints on the issue.Ordinarily, students don’t even need to come to apply for transcripts if the system is digitalised because the transcript is not given to a student except where it is a student copy.

But most transcripts are requested for academic purposes in furtherance of an academic degree so the student does not even need to come.But I understand that the system is not digitalised.For my own university, the process is more paperwork and I know the process is tedious.But I think the problem comes when the individual sends someone to do it for them by proxy and the person does not have the patience.

“I was deputy dean of students’ affairs for one of the campuses for about five years so I am conversant with the issue of transcript and student clearance and the rest, although the transcript is under the Exams and Records Unit.After the student satisfies the requirements of the university, they apply to Exams and Records for the transcript.This unit checks the student’s file, then goes to the student’s department to check for their scores then prepare the transcript.This unit also inquires from the applicant whether they are applying for the student copy or the copy to be sent to any of the universities in or outside Nigeria.This is because they have different prices for the student’s copy and copy to be sent within or outside Nigeria.That is the procedure that I know.” Okumagba added that the delay could also be caused when graduates don’t obey the institution’s instructions.

He added, “As for the delay in procuring a transcript, what I understand from experience is that most of the students are fond of flouting the regulations of the university.For instance, the issue of transcripts are supposed to be requested by the applicant but you have cases where a student will call or want someone else to do that by proxy, that is against the university regulation.Such documents cannot be handled by third parties and that is why when it comes to posting it outside the country or to other universities, you don’t give it to the student by hand except the student wants a personal copy and that is not addressed to a university.He noted that transcript issuance delay could also come from the schools’ administrative unit if a student’s files were missing.He said, “Also, the delay could be administrative delays as most of the systems in some of the universities have not been digitalised.We do not have a digitalised registry for database of students’ information or grades as we have in most of the western universities; that could be another administrative challenge.

Sometimes you have missing files where you cannot find the result of a particular session.“For instance, I was contacted by someone who had started the process of collecting her transcript four months ago.

When I enquired on the person’s behalf, I was told her 100 level result was missing.That has to do with our own computation system.

If we are not digitalised then files will get missing in the process of moving from one office to another or when a whole department is moving to a new building.I know of a particular department that moved to a new building.In the process, anything could have happened, certain files could have been left behind that may have been considered not important but these are files of students who may have graduated 20 or 30 years ago.

“The challenges are there but what I have come to understand is that trying to do these things by proxy is the first problem.You are trying to flout university regulations and that is bad.Why can’t you go to your alma mater and demand something and you will get it.I know of students who came to apply and got their transcripts without any problem.The ones complaining, if they are not around and demanding transcripts, they are likely to complain.’’ Also, a lecturer in a federal university, Prof Adebayo Adejumo, said delay in transcript processing could be from the applicants, institution’s internet level and technology compliance including societal ills affecting the education system.

Adejumo said, “The reasons could be from three major perspectives; one, from the perspective of the graduates seeking to have access to their transcripts or academic records.The second is on the part of their institution, establishment and department that produce them and the extent to which they are technology/internet compliant.The third is what I call an eclectic group of reasons where we talk about interplay of fallout from social decadence in society having a spill over effect on other areas of life, education inclusive.“Looking at the first one, having been an undergraduate coordinator for many years and also having been in the academic field for quite some time, I do know that many of the issues come from those who apply for transcripts.

Either they are not aware of the conditions or regulations guiding the issuance of transcripts or academic jotters in the establishments, many times they just assume that they can send a note and ask for their transcript and get it.It’s not so.Each establishment has their standard and regulations concerning how those issues are handled.“Also, confidentiality of information; who can have access to information, for how long can such a person have access to such information and what is the purpose or use to which such information will be put to use.

When an applicant who should be conversant with some of those guidelines for whatever reasons, either because he doesn’t know and I wonder because before the law there is no ignorance, or some will know, they think for one reason or the other will want to circumvent the system or play on the intelligence of the establishment.Many times, they do not adhere to those guidelines and I know, for some of the institutions that I have worked for, when you flout one of the regulations, you have not fulfilled the condition or criterion for the issuance of transcripts or academic records.” He noted that applicants who filled applications incorrectly, misspelt or misarranged details of their name or academic sessions would not be able to get their transcripts or documents.

He added, “Some others, for one reason or the other, won’t submit synchronous, verifiable information.It is either the names are wrongly spelt or the surname is interchanged with the middle name.Some are married and they, maybe forgetfully, quote their marital name instead of the name they used while they were in school and that won’t tally with what they have in their records, nobody will issue such academic records.

Some names will be correct but the session they are requesting information from, the information records won’t be there.“I have had one or two cases of some students who requested information about records close to 13 years.They left the institution when everything was analogue, even at times when we have access to such records after a cumbersome process, most of the information there are written in either biro, ink or something that have melted and not readily legible and it will be a criminal offence for one to assume that six means nine or nine means six, one could end up in the court of the law and be jailed.So for academic records, one will be careful not to delve into the domain of sorting a record that is not clear without enough evidence to back up one’s claim.” Adejumo noted that there could be other factors such as application fee which might have increased because of inflation or other reasons.“Another major impediment is the issue of over centralisation, where a single office in the university will be entrusted with the power of superintending over the records.Many times they become oversubscribed at the central system and there will be jamming in the system and this will end in long queue of requests for transcripts and academic records.These are some of the things that could delay transcript issuance,’’ he stated.

According to the lecturer, some applicants submit requests for transcripts and academic records few hours to the submission deadlines.Adejumo stated, “Some of the causes are traceable to the establishment or institution.Often times, some people that are saddled with these responsibilities are lackadaisical and they have lackadaisical attitude to something they should attend to with the speed of light.Some others do not prioritise the timing of such requests in line with those making the request.

If you are doing the right thing at the wrong time, you are not doing the right thing and the lives of people making such requests could be frustrated and it could mean missed opportunities.” Copyright PUNCH All rights reserved.This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.Contact: [[email protected]](/cdn-cgi/l/email-protection#61150904040508150e132111140f02090f064f020e0c).

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