History of Universities in Nigeria and dates of their establishment

History of Universities in Nigeria and dates of their establishment. A solid education system is one of the pillars of a successful society.

Any society that seeks to thrive must, first, invest in its human capital, as it is the individual that makes up the society, and the primary aim of education is to improve the individual. It is for this reason that many economic and social analysts have picked out education as the force that drives civilisation and national development. A study of every society that has thrived, from the Greek’s to the Roman’s, will prove this assertion correct. With this in mind, we can say that the development we seek in Nigeria first starts with improving our education system.

Nigeria’s education system, especially at university level, has gone through various stages, from the Elliot commission of 1943, to the establishment of the University College, Ibadan, and the other first generation universities, down to the establishment of the fourth generation universities and the National Open University of Nigeria of the present day.

Those who went through the early phases will agree that there has been considerable improvement in the system of things, although when compared to how things are done in other climes, they’ll also agree that there is much left to be done.

This purpose of this article, however, is not to point out the obvious ills in the Nation’s education system at university level or to look at the way forward, but to outline briefly the history of university education in Nigeria, as well as outline some important dates from the early days till today.

History of University Education in Nigeria

The history of university education in Nigeria began with the Elliot commission of 1943, which then lead to the establishment of the University College, Ibadan – which was at as at the time of its establishment an affiliate of the University of London – in 1948.

The UCI, as it was known for short, suffered a number of problems in its early years, not least among them were poor staffing, low enrolment, high dropout rate, and inadequate funding. In 1959, another commission, the Ashby commission, was set up by the federal government to advise it on the needs of the higher education sector in the country.

The following year, however, the eastern region would establish it’s own university – The University of Nigeria, Nsukka – at Nsukka. Two years later, in 1962, the Western region and Northern region would follow suit by establishing the University of Ife, which would later become Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, respectively.

The federal government would also create the University of Lagos, as well as make the University College, Ibadan, a full-fledged university, in the same year. Thus, the UCI and the University of Lagos became the country’s first federal universities. The other universities, however, remained regional. In 1970, the Midwestern region joined the Northern, Eastern, and Western regoin in owning a university of its own, as it established the University of Benin.

Thus, the first set of Nigeria’s universities, popularly called the first generation universities, were born. Seven more universities were established by the federal government during the period of the Third National Development Plan (1975-1980). They were the Universities of Port-Harcourt, Calabar, Jos, Ilorin, Maiduguri, Sokoto, and Ado Bayero University, Kano. These Universities became Nigeria’s second generation universities.

The federal government would also take over the four regional universities in 1975. 1980-1990 saw the establishment of Nigeria’s third generation universities in Owerri, Makurdi, Yola, Akure, and Bauchi. State universities were also created in Lagos, Imo, Ondo, Oyo, Cross-River, And Akwa-Ibom. More federal universities, state universities, and the National open university – all termed Nigeria’s fourth generation universities – were established from 1991 till date.

Dates of Establishment of Nigerian federal universities.

1 Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi – 1988

2 Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria -1962

3 Bayero University, Kano – 1975

4 Federal University Gashua, Yobe – 2013

5 Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun – 2007

6 Federal University of Technology, Akure – 1981

7 Federal University of Technology, Minna -1982

8 Federal University of Technology, Owerri – 1980

9 Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State -2011

10 Federal University, Dutsin-Ma, Katsina – 2011

11 Federal University, Kashere, Gombe State – 2011

12 Federal University, Lafia, Nasarawa State -2011

13 Federal University, Lokoja, Kogi State – 2011

14 Federal University, Ndifu-Alike, Ebonyi State – 2011

15 Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa – 2011

16 Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State – 2011

17 Federal University, Wukari, Taraba State – 2011

18 Federal University, Birnin Kebbi – 2013

19 Federal University, Gusau Zamfara – 2013

20 Michael Okpara University of Agricultural Umudike – 2013

21 Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola – 1981

22 National Open University of Nigeria, Lagos – 2002

23 Nigeria Police Academy Wudil – 2013

24 Nigerian Defence Academy Kaduna – 1985

25 Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka – 1992

26 Obafemi Awolowo University,Ile-Ife – 1962

27 University of Abuja, Gwagwalada – 1988

28 Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta – 1988

29 University of Agriculture, Makurdi – 1988

30 University of Benin – 1970

31 University of Calabar – 1975

32 University of Ibadan – 1948

33 University of Ilorin – 1975

34 University of Jos – 1975

35 University of Lagos – 1962

36 University of Maiduguri – 1975

37 University of Nigeria, Nsukka – 1960

38 University of Port-Harcourt – 1975

39 University of Uyo – 1991

40 Usumanu Danfodiyo University – 1975


Date of establishment of Nigerian state universities

1 Abia State University, Uturu – 1981

2 Adamawa State University Mubi – 2002

3 Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba – 1999

4 Akwa Ibom State University of Technology, Uyo – 2010

5 Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma – 1980

6 Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Uli – 2000

7 Bauchi State University, Gadau – 2011

8 Benue State University, Makurdi – 1992

9 Yobe State University, Damaturu – 2006

10 Cross River State University of Science &Technology, Calabar – 2004

11 Delta State University Abraka – 1992

12 Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki – 2000

13 Ekiti State University – 1982

14 Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Enugu – 1982

15 Gombe State University, Gombe – 2004

16 Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai – 2005

17 Ignatius Ajuru University of Education,Rumuolumeni – 2010

18 Imo State University, Owerri – 1992

19 Sule Lamido University, Kafin Hausa, Jigawa – 2013

20 Kaduna State University, Kaduna – 2004

21 Kano University of Science & Technology, Wudil – 2000

22 Kebbi State University, Kebbi – 2006

23 Kogi State University Anyigba – 1999

24 Kwara State University, Ilorin – 2009

25 Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso – 1990

26 Ondo State University of Science and Technology Okitipupa – 2008

27 River State University of Science and Technology – 1979

28 Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye – 1982

29 Lagos State University, Ojo – 1983

30 Niger Delta University Yenagoa – 2000

31 Nasarawa State University Keffi – 2002

32 Plateau State University Bokkos – 2005

33 Tai Solarin University of Education Ijebu Ode – 2005

34 Umar Musa Yar’ Adua University Katsina – 2006

35 Osun State University Osogbo – 2006

36 Taraba State University, Jalingo – 2008

37 Sokoto State University – 2009

38 Northwest University Kano- 2012

39 Oyo State Technical University Ibadan – 2012

40 Ondo State University of Medical Sciences- 2015

41 Edo University Iyamo – 2016

42 Eastern Palm University Ogboko, Imo State – 2016

43 University of Africa Toru Orua, Bayelsa State – 2016

44 Bornu State University, Maiduguri – 2016


University education in Nigeria has come a long way since the early 1940s. From having just 5 universities during the early years of independence, Nigeria now has over 80 government-owned universities and over 60 private institutes of higher education.  The worry now is not the number of universities in the country, but the standard of education. While there remains a cry to establish more universities, as the number of students sitting for JAMB examinations grows year by year, and the universities currently on ground cannot accommodate all who are qualified for admission, there is also a louder cry to see the education system improve, as creating more universities while ignoring the education system itself would see the current situation worsen. We hope this article has been helpful. Let us know.

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