Top 5 Oldest and First Universities In Nigeria (Official List).

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The top 5 Oldest and First Universities are the University of Ibadan, the University of Nigeria, the Obafemi Awolowo University, the Ahmadu Bello University and the University of Lagos. These five institutions were found between the end of the 40s and beginning of the 60s.

Even when the country was under British colonial rule, there was already on ground a well established university that could rival any top tertiary institution of learning on the continent.

After independence from the British, many other universities were established, and added to the first university in Nigeria, they make up the oldest and some of them are still the very best universities in the country to date.

Top 5 Oldest and First Universities In Nigeria

Below are the top 5 Oldest and First Universities:

    • University of Ibadan – 1948
    • University of Nigeria – 1955
    • Obafemi Awolowo University – 1961
    • Ahmadu Bello University  1962
    • University of Lagos – 1962

1. University of Ibadan – 1948

Oldest and First Universities

University of Ibadan top the list of our Oldest and First Universities in Nigeria.  The University of Ibadan was established in 1948, UI as it is fondly referred to, is the first University in Nigeria.

Until 1962 when it became a full-fledged independent University, it was known as University College, Ibadan, a College of the University of London in a special relationship scheme.

The establishment of the University of Ibadan was based on the recommendation of the Asquith and the Elliot Commissions on Higher Education in the then British colonies in West Africa, that two University Colleges of the University of London be founded in Ghana and Nigeria.

Before 1948, Yaba Higher College (Not to be confused with its successor, the Yaba College of Technology) had been founded in 1932 in Yaba, Lagos, as the first tertiary educational institute in Nigeria which was focused mainly on providing post-secondary vocational education and teacher training to Africans. In 1948, staff and students from Yaba Higher College were transferred to Ibadan to form the new University College Ibadan.

The University, which took off with academic programmes in Arts, Science and Medicine, is now a comprehensive citadel of learning with academic programmes in sixteen Faculties namely, Arts, Sciences, Basic Medical Sciences, Clinical Sciences, Agriculture, the Social Sciences, Education, Veterinary Medicine, Pharmacy, Technology, Law, Public Health, Dentistry, Economics, Renewable Natural Resources and Environmental Design and Management. The Faculties of the Basic Medical Sciences, Clinical Sciences, Public Health and Dentistry are organised as a College of Medicine

2. University of Nigeria Nsukka – 1955

Oldest and First Universities

University of Nigeria, Nsukka is the second in our list of Oldest and First Universities in Nigeria. The University of Nigeria, Nsukka was established in 1955 by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, then Premier of the Eastern Region.

The University of Nigeria, Nsukka, despite being the second oldest university in the country, is the first fully-fledged indigenous and first autonomous university in Nigeria.

This is so because as at the time of its establishment, the University of Ibadan, which is the first degree awarding institution in the country was still affiliated with the University College, London and it was still awarding London degrees.

UNN is comprised of four campuses: Nsukka, Enugu, Ituku-Ozalla, all in Enugu State and the Aba campus which is located in Abia State. The Aba campus currently houses the Institute of Nigerian Languages. The law to establish a university in the Eastern Region was passed on May 18, 1955, and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was influential in making this happen. Classes officially began in October 1960 with an initial enrolment of 220 students and 13 members of the academic staff were involved in teaching these students.

3. Obafemi Awolowo University – 1961

Oldest and First Universities

The Obafemi Awolowo University is located in Ile-Ife, Osun State and it was founded in 1962 as the University of Ife.

It was renamed Obafemi Awolowo University on May 12, 1987 in honour of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo who was the first Premier of the Western Region and whose brainchild the university was.

The establishment of this university was to cover for some certain inadequacies of the University of Ibadan at that time. It was mainly due to the fact that the University of Ibadan had no Faculty of Engineering, no Law School, no Pharmacy School as well as a Management Training School.

This prompted the establishment of the Obafemi Awolowo University and as a result, this tertiary education institution was the first to start a pharmacy school in the whole of West Africa as well as the first Chemical Engineering and Electrical Engineering departments.

4. Ahmadu Bello University  1962

Ahmadu Bello University

Ahmadu Bello University was founded in 1962 as the University of Northern Nigeria. As at the time of its establishment, majority of the school’s lecturers were British; only two of them were indigenous lecturers and most of the early appointments were professorship appointments.

The two campuses of the university are located in Samaru and Kongo all in Zaria, Kaduna State, with the Samaru campus being the main campus.

The campus at Samaru houses the administrative offices, faculties of physical sciences, life sciences, social-sciences, arts and languages, education, environmental design, engineering, medical sciences. agricultural sciences and research facilities while the Kongo campus houses the faculties of Law and Administration.

The Ahmadu Bello University was named after the first Premier of Northern Nigeria, and the then Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello. The university boasts one of the largest teaching hospitals in Nigeria which is the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital.

5. University of Lagos – 1962

University of Lagos

University of Lagos is also among some of the oldest universities in Nigeria. It was established in 1962 because of the need to create more universities in the country post-independence.

The University of Lagos is among the first generation universities which has one of the largest student enrolment in the country.

For many prospective students, UNILAG is their first choice and it is one of the most sought after federal universities in Nigeria because of its prestige and high educational standards.

The school comprises of two campuses with the main campus located in Akoka and the college of medicine, located in the Idi-Araba. UNILAG is one of the best universities in Nigeria to study medicine.


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