Design And Implementation Of A Webbased University Admission And Placement Neural Network Model – Complete project material


ABSTRACT

Every year the number of applicants seeking admission into Nigerian Universities
increases by leaps and bounds although the Universities lack the commensurate
facilities to meet the challenges of admitting the high number of applicants. For this
reason, the admission officers have to manually evaluate every candidate’s data against
the set admission requirements to screen the applicants in order to select the number of
candidates that their universities can accommodate. The procedures involved are very
cumbersome, time consuming and prone to a lot of human errors and irregularities.
Many candidates miss out on the admission every year, and the most painful aspect of
this manual process is that many who are not qualified for a particular course end up
being given placement into such courses while the more qualified ones are left out.
Consequently, for lack of aptitude for the course, the students struggle through and
many even resort to cheating their way through examinations and then graduate out of
the Universities ill-equipped for the job market and the society. On the other hand,
some of the less fortunate but qualified ones who are not given University admission
year after year, become so frustrated over time and end up in hideous lifestyles.
Whichever way, the society suffers and national growth is hindered.
In this work, a web-based model was designed to considerably take care of the above
problems. The system was developed to provide a time-efficient, detailed and unbiased
automated procedure for selecting the most qualified candidates for admission into
universities, and ensure that qualified candidates, who fail to meet the requirements for
a particular course, are automatically placed into other courses for which they meet the
admission requirements and where vacancies exist, using neural network model. The
model also provides an avenue for students self-screening admission system.
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The system design, implementation and results are presented in chapter four. The
implementation was based on AMP (Apache, MySQL, and PHP) open source solutions.

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Blank Page ……………………………………………………………………….i
Cover Page ………………………………………………………………………ii
Title Page ……………………………………………………………………….iii
Declaration ………………………………………………………………………….iv
Certification ………………………………………………………………………v
Dedication ………………………………………………………………………vi
Acknowledgement …………………………………………………………………vii
Abstract ………………………………………………………………………… ix
Table of Contents ……………………………………………………………… xi
List of Tables ……………………………………………………………………..xiii
List of Figures …………………………………………………………………… xiv
Chapter One – Introduction
1.1 Background to the study and Statement of the Problem ………………….1
1.2 Research motivations ……………………………………………………..7
1.3 Research objectives ………………………………………………………10
1.4 Research methodology ……………………………………………………….10
1.5 Limitations to the study ………………………………………………………11
1.6 Contributions to knowledge ………………………………………………11
1.7 Organization of the Thesis ……………………………………………….13
Chapter Two – Literature Review
2.1 Artificial neural networks ………………………………………………..14
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2.2 Electronic implementation of Artificial ………………………………….23
2.3 Structure of an artificial neural networks …………………………………25
2.4 Training an artificial neural network ……………………………………..28
2.5 Network architectures …………………………………………………….33
2.6 Related works …………………………………………………………….36
2.7 Discriminant analysis …………………………………………………….43
Chapter Three – System Analysis and Modelling
3.1 The student selection problem ……………………………………………46
3.2 The model ………………………………………………………………..48
Chapter Four – System Design and Implementation
4.1 Software Platform for implementation …………………………………..57
4.2 The University Admission And Placement System Design ……………..63
4.3 System Implementation ………………………………………………….75
4.4 System Requirements ……………………………………………………76
Chapter Five – Conclusion and Recommendations
5.1 Conclusion ……………………………………………………………….84
5.2 Recommendations ……………………………………………………….85
References ……………………………………………………………………….86
Appendix A………………………………………………………………………96
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LIST OF TABLES
Table 2.5: Network selector table
Table 4.1: UME admission requirements table
Table 4.2: O/L admission requirements table
Table 4.3: Candidate JAMB UME subjects table
Table 4.4: Candidate O/L first sit table
Table 4.5: Candidate O/L second sit table
Table 4.6: Admission Results Table

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background to the Study and Statement of the Problem
Higher education in Nigeria can be traced to 1932 when Yaba Higher College
was established for the purpose of producing assistants who would relieve the
then colonial administrators of menial tasks. Thus in 1940, the University
College, Ibadan was established but the programmes offered there and then were
narrow because the agenda of the colonial administration did not include the
training of high-level manpower for many of the professions. The Ashby
Commission in 1960, recommended the establishment of regional universities in
the then three regions of Nigeria. Three universities were established: the
University of Nigeria, Nsukka (1960) in the Eastern region; the University of
Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University (1961) in the Western region and
Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (1962) in the Northern region, while the
existing University College, Ibadan was granted full-fledged University status in
1962. Also, the University of Lagos, Akoka came into existence in 1962 and as
a city University, it provided courses in law, social sciences, medicine,
humanities, engineering and part-time programmes for working students. Lastly,
the University of Benin was established in 1970, making the sixth of the
Universities that have come to be known as Nigeria’s first generation
Universities (Adesina, 1988).
Today the higher education system in Nigeria is composed of universities,
polytechnics, institutions of technology, colleges of education that form part of,
or are affiliated to, universities, and professional, specialized institutions. They
can be further categorized as private, state or federal owned institutions. Federal
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universities categorized as first, second, or third generation universities, are
owned and funded by the federal government, while state universities are owned
and financed by the states (there are 36 states in all), and private universities are
owned and funded by individuals or religious organisations. As seen from
above, the first generation universities are the six universities established in the
1960s and early 1970’s; second generation universities are seven universities
established in the mid 1970’s; while third generation universities refer to the
eleven institutions, including the universities of technology, established in the
1980’s and 1990’s (Hartnett, 2000).
According to the National Universities Commission (NUC)’s report on the
results of the November 2005 System-Wide Accreditation Exercise, there are
twenty-five (25) federal universities including three (3) universities of
agriculture, twenty (20) state universities, twenty (23) private universities, five
(5) degree-awarding colleges of education, sixty-nine (69) National Certificate
in Education (NCE) – awarding colleges of education, one (1) military
university, four (4) inter-university centres. This gives a total of one hundred
and forty-two (142) higher education institutions excluding the polytechnics and
the ten (10) newly approved private universities in 2006.
Higher education in Nigeria can be further divided into the public or private, and
the university or non-university sectors. Public universities, owned by the
federal and state governments, dominate the higher education system. The nonuniversity
sector is composed of polytechnics, institutions of technology,
colleges of education, and professional institutions. There is no sharp distinction
between the university and the non-university sectors; most of the institutions in
the latter sector are affiliated with universities.
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1.1.2 Access to Higher Education in Nigeria
There are three levels of university education in Nigeria. The university level
first stage offers a Bachelor’s degree after a minimum of three years and a
maximum of six years study (e.g. in medicine). The university level second
stage offers a Master’s degree following one year of post-Bachelor’s study or
one of post-graduate diploma study and a year of post-Bachelor’s study in the
relevant discipline. The university level third stage offers doctorate degree of
two to three years duration after the Master’s degree. To gain admission into the
first level of university education, a potential student has to pass the competitive
University Matriculation Examination (UME).
In Nigeria and in fact most nations of the world, the University is the highest
citadel of learning for the production of high-level human resources for the
labour market. In recognition of this and the role of higher education in
perpetuating national unity, the Federal Government of Nigeria took appropriate
steps to ensure equity with regard to access to university education. The Joint
Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) was created by Act No. 2 of 1978
of the Federal Military Government (JAMB, 2004). The main aim for the
establishment of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) was to
provide an opportunity for eligible Nigerians to have access to university
education, and to diversify the intakes, and achieve a high rate of national spread
in the placement of applicants into Nigerian universities (JAMB, 2004). In
addition, the JAMB was to place suitably qualified candidates into the existing
tertiary institutions after taking into account the vacancies available in each
tertiary institution. Placement was to be done on the basis of merit, catchment
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area, and with a special focus on females and the Educationally Less
Advantaged States (Omoike and Aluede, 2007).
The Federal Government controls the universities and other higher education
institutions through the following organs: the Federal Ministry of Education; the
National Universities Commission, which among other things allocates funds to
federal universities and also prescribes the spending formula; and the Committee
of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, which acts as a coordinating body
and offers advice to government and universities’ governing councils on matters
of general and specific concern to higher education.
Individual university administration is the joint responsibility of the university’s
Governing Council and the Senate. Although the Governing Council remains
the highest policy-making body in the university, an appointed Vice-Chancellor
acts as the Chief Executive Officer, coordinating both academic and
administrative functions. Within universities and colleges, the institutes and
centers are more or less autonomous. The university system polity consists of
three distinct categories of staff viz: administrative, academic and technical,
each having a union that protects the interest of members. For instance, the
Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) safeguards the interests of the
academicians in the Nigerian university system. Most universities operate the
semester system, where a session comprises of two semesters. The university
academic year begins in October and runs through to July.
The Federal Government in order to make education relevant to the needs and
aspirations of the people and so bring about the desired development reviewed
her educational system by introducing the 6-3-3-4 system of education
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(Maduewesi and Imhanlahimi, 2006). By this system, before reaching university
entrance level, students undertake 12 years of school education, the first six
years of which are spent at primary school while the remaining six years are
split between junior and senior secondary school education. Then the last four
years of the education system are spent on an average four–year course in the
university.
Generally, students are 18 years old at the start of their university education,
though some students are able to gain admission at the younger age of 16.
Students may be admitted into the first year of a four-year degree course based
on results achieved in the Universities Matriculation Examination (UME)
conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB). Entrance
to the first year of a three-year programme is based on results obtained in the
West African School Certificate (WASC) O level, in addition to either the
General Certificate of Education (GCE) A level, or equivalent examinations
such as the Interim Joint Matriculation Board Examination (IJMBE), and the
National Diploma (ND) certificates.
Admission is through the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) for
both UME and direct entry applicants. For UME, interested applicants purchase
the JAMB form and subsequently write the University Matriculation
Examination (UME). Based on the score profile of applicants and the
recommended enrolment figure for the admission year, a minimum cut-off score
is usually proposed for UME admissions. For instance, for the 2005/2006
session, a total enrolment figure was proposed as follows: ARTS (2139) and
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SCIENCE (3210) for Ahmadu Bello University, and the proposed merit cut-off
score was 234 for that session.
1.1.3 Statement of the Problem
As stated in the preceding section, the Joint Admissions and Matriculations
board has the responsibility of placing suitably qualified candidates into
Nigerian tertiary institutions after taking into account the vacancies available in
each institution. However, the records show that well over 500,000 candidates
seek placements into universities annually in Nigeria and only about 13% (on
approximation) of them secure admission, which is a far cry from the target.
Admission decisions are made by educational institutions by considering a
variety of factors. Some of the evaluation criteria normally used are: JAMB
UME subject combination; university’s admission requirements; overall scores
in JAMB UME results; UME merit cut-off score; five credits obtainable in ‘O’
level certificate (in not more than two sittings); catchment area considerations;
and educationally less developed states (elds) considerations. In 2006, the Post
UME criterion was introduced whereby, a potential candidate having sat and
passed the JAMB UME, is examined by his/her University of choice. The Post
UME criterion further narrow down or increases the chances of the candidates
being selected and placed in the course of their choice or any available course.
Faced with all the multiple criteria as stipulated above, the admission officer
manually evaluates every candidate’s data against the various admission
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requirements before taking admission and placement decisions. This process is
quite cumbersome and highly not cost-effective in terms of cost and processing
time. Also, as with every manual process, it is fraught with inaccurate decisions
resulting from avoidable human processing errors and at times deliberate
manipulations to achieve some unwholesome personal aims like admitting
unqualified candidates who has personal affiliations with the admission officer.
The inherent problems with the manual system of admission gave rise to the
need for development of a computerised model that can be used to carry out the
admission procedures with a view to:
(a) reducing to the barest minimum the admission processing cost and time
in terms of man-hours
(b) removing all elements of human errors be they intentional or
unintentional
(c) streamlining admission processing work
(d) making admission decisions more objective and impartial
(e) admitting only qualified candidates and
(f) providing a self-screening and evaluation mechanism for candidates.
1.2 Research Motivations
Every year more than 500,000 applicants seek placement to universities. Of
these applicants only about 13% are selected for admission. That shows that a
large number of these candidates miss out on the opportunity of being admitted
into the Universities and, for some candidates, this trend continues for many
years leading to frustrations.
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This problem has remained difficult to surmount because, for any admission and
placement process, several admission criteria are considered and the candidates’
data would have to be manually evaluated against the various admission
requirements by each university’s admission officer before selecting the few
qualified candidates. And this is not an easy task.
Every Nigerian that seeks admission into the University must have one thing or
the other to do with one of the following agencies:
i. Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB);
ii. West African Examination Council (WAEC);
iii. National Examination Council (NECO);
iv. National Teacher’s Institute (NTI);
v. Interim Joint Matriculation Board (IJMB).
Adebiyi (2006) developed a web-based model for JAMB candidates’ admission
and placement into Nigerian Universities. In addition to the general admission
requirement of five ‘O’ level credits in not more than two sittings, Adebiyi, in
his model, took into consideration other admission requirements such as UME
subject combination and total score requirements, and University’s course
subject combination requirements as the criteria for admission and placement.
His model also presented an opportunity for students self – screening admission
system.
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The model however, did not take into consideration candidates that get
University placement based on variables such as catchment areas and those from
educationally less developed states (elds). Since these variables are part of the
standard criteria in the University admission and placement process in Nigeria,
Adebiyi’s model would deny admission and placement to many candidates who
these variables are meant to favour.
This study therefore makes an improvement on the model presented by Adebiyi
(2006). This is achieved by the development of a web-based model that takes
into consideration admission requirements other than those considered by his
model. These admission requirements include:
a. UME subject combination and total score requirements,
b. University’s course subject combination requirements,
c. ‘O’ level subject combination and credit pass requirements,
d. Post UME requirements,
e. Candidates from the University’s catchment area, and
f. Candidates from the educationally less developed states.
In this era of modern computer technology and information science,
sophisticated information systems can be built to make decisions or predictions
based on information contained in available past data. Such systems are called
learning systems and are currently used for the purpose of classification and
prediction. A student data evaluation approach based on neural networks was
described in his dissertation (Sheel et. al., 2002). This was used to determine the
placement of university students into basic mathematics courses. The existing
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approach used the results of a mathematics placement examination given to
incoming freshmen to determine course placement, but the study suggested
neural networks to be suitable alternatives to such examinations.
1.3 Research Objectives
The objective of this study is to develop and implement a web-based model for
the Admission and Placement of Potential Students into Nigerian Universities.
The model evaluates potential students’ data against University admission
requirements thereby streamlining and automating the processing work involved
in student admission and placement procedures. In addition, the model will
provide candidates with an opportunity to perform self-screening and personally
evaluate their chances of gaining admission and placement into the Universities
of their choice.
1.4 Research Methodology
A review of related literature is made along with a few related works, and a webbased
admission and student placement process model was developed. The
technological approach to the implementation was based on open source
solutions. The system requirement in terms of software and hardware includes a
web server, which is apache extended with support for PHP and MySQL
relational database.
In recognition of the sensitivity of the data contained in the system,
communications over the public network are protected with open-ssl library for
data encryption and authentication and role-based authorisation was built into
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the system to specify access rights to the database system. System testing was
carried out succinctly with real test data which were obtained from the faculty of
science of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Also, as a follow up to the testrunning
and subsequent debugging of the system, the system was implemented.
At the end of it all, potential students should be able to go on the relevant
University’s website and verify whether they qualify for admission and
placement into that University. This is self-screening.
1.5 Limitations to the Study
Some limitations to this study are identified in the area of time-constraint and
physical restriction to real data. Due to the volume of work involved in this
study, much time is needed to design the model, develop the program code, testrun,
debug and fully implement the new system, than is available for the period
of this study. Other limitations include the unavailability of constant electric
power supply, the erratic nature of Internet connectivity in most parts of the
country, and the training and retraining of dedicated staff who will monitor the
system.
1.6 Contributions to Knowledge
By the development of this Web-based Admission and Placement model,
potential candidates’ data are evaluated against the university admission
requirements and the most qualified candidates are thereby selected. The new
system has tremendous contributions to knowledge, as seen below:
(i) government’s policy to promote higher education, learning and research
is realised since the automated system frees a lot of man-hours to staff
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involved in the cumbersome, time-consuming admission process, and,
the recovered time can be gainfully employed in capacity building.
(ii) many more people now have fair opportunity to increase in knowledge
because, when candidates fail to meet some of the admission
requirements for their first course, the automated system automatically
considers such candidates for placement into any other course for which
they meet the requirements, provided there are vacant positions.
(ii) a time-efficient, detailed and unbiased automated procedure for selecting
the most qualified candidates for admission into universities is put in
place and most (if not all) of the bottlenecks that is rife with the current
time consuming and error-prone manual admission and placement
processes becomes history.
(iii) the prevalence of cheating is reduced and hard work is encouraged
through the student self-screening admission system .
(iv) University admission and placement is made more reliable and this goes
to reduce the tendency to corrupt practices even in the larger society.
(v) since it provides better admission opportunity for qualified candidates,
better qualified graduates will now be turned out into the job market as
opposed to the output that comes from persons who struggle through the
universities because they were never qualified to be there in the first
instance.
(vi) with qualified candidates admitted, lecturers have more time on their
hands for research which ultimately increases knowledge in all
ramifications, since they do not have to over labour themselves to impart
25
knowledge to students who do not possess the aptitude for university
education.
1.7. Organization of the Thesis
This report is divided into five (5) chapters. In chapter one, a general introduction and
background of the study is given, stating the problem, research motivations, objective,
methodology, scope of the research and its contributions to knowledge.
Chapter two presents a review of various literature in the field of artificial neural
networks and some related works that support this research work.
In chapter three, the system analysis and modelling is presented showing a detail of the
research methodology.
The system design and implementation is contained in chapter four with emphasis on
the software platform for the implementation, the system hardware requirements and the
results of the implementation.
Finally, chapter five presents the conclusion and recommendations from the study.
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