Which university was first build in Nigeria?

Nigeria is a culturally diverse nation with a rich academic history. Since gaining independence in 1960, the country has made significant strides in the realm of education. The establishment of universities in Nigeria has played a crucial role in the growth and development of the nation. The first university built in Nigeria, the University of Ibadan, has a long and interesting history that dates back to the early 20th century. This article will discuss the establishment of the University of Ibadan, its history, significance, and contributions to Nigeria’s academic landscape.

The Emergence of the University of Ibadan

The Yaba College

Before delving into the establishment of the University of Ibadan, it is essential to understand the historical context that led to its creation. In 1932, the Yaba Higher College was established in Lagos as the first tertiary institution in Nigeria. It was built to train Nigerians for high-level technical and professional positions in the colonial government. However, the Yaba College had limitations in terms of resources, academic programs, and infrastructure, which led to the need for a more comprehensive institution of higher learning.

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The Elliot Commission

The Elliot Commission, a British-led committee, was formed in 1943 to review higher education in West Africa. The commission’s recommendations led to the decision to establish a university in Nigeria, which would be affiliated with the University of London.

The Establishment of the University of Ibadan

The University of Ibadan was established on November 17, 1948, as the University College, Ibadan. It was initially affiliated with the University of London, allowing students to earn degrees from the prestigious institution. The university was built on a 2,550-acre campus in the city of Ibadan, which is the capital of Nigeria’s Oyo State.

The Early Years of the University of Ibadan

Academic Programs and Faculty

In its early years, the University of Ibadan offered courses in arts, science, and medicine. The first intake consisted of 104 students, with 50% of them enrolling in the Faculty of Medicine. The university had a faculty of 13 academic staff, including the principal, Kenneth Mellanby, who played a vital role in the institution’s development.

Expansion and Growth

As the demand for higher education increased in Nigeria, the University of Ibadan expanded its academic programs and facilities. New faculties were added, including Agriculture, Veterinary Medicine, and Education. The university also established research institutes such as the Institute of African Studies, the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research, and the Cocoa Research Institute.

The University of Ibadan Becomes an Independent Institution

The Ashby Commission

In 1959, the Ashby Commission, another British-led committee, was formed to investigate the future of higher education in Nigeria. The commission recommended that the University College, Ibadan, should become an independent institution, and it should be granted the power to award its degrees.

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The University of Ibadan Act of 1962

In response to the Ashby Commission’s recommendations, the Nigerian government enacted the University of Ibadan Act in 1962. The act granted the university full autonomy, allowing it to award its degrees and manage its affairs independently. The University of Ibadan thus became the first Nigerian university to gain independence from its British affiliation.

The University of Ibadan Today

Academic Programs

The University of Ibadan has grown significantly over the years, offering a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate programs in various disciplines. It now has faculties such as Arts, Science, Social Sciences, Education, Technology, Law, Pharmacy, Public Health, and Renewable Natural Resources, among others. The university also maintains several research institutes and centers that contribute to the development of knowledge and research in Nigeria and beyond.

Campus Life and Facilities

The University of Ibadan boasts a vibrant campus life, with numerous extracurricular activities and societies available for students to engage in. The university provides facilities such as modern classrooms, libraries, laboratories, sports centers, and hostels. The campus also has an art gallery, a botanical garden, and a zoological garden, which serve as important cultural and scientific resources for students and the wider community.

Notable Alumni and Achievements

Over the years, the University of Ibadan has produced many notable alumni who have gone on to make significant contributions in various fields. Some of these alumni include Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, and renowned writer Chinua Achebe. The university has also played a vital role in the development of Nigeria’s educational system, as many of its graduates have gone on to occupy key positions in academia, government, and the private sector.

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The Legacy and Significance of the University of Ibadan

Pioneering Role in Nigerian Higher Education

The University of Ibadan holds a special place in Nigeria’s academic history as the first university established in the country. Its establishment marked the beginning of the country’s journey towards building a strong and vibrant higher education system. The university has served as a model for other universities in Nigeria, many of which have since been established to cater to the growing demand for higher education.

Contribution to National Development

The University of Ibadan has made significant contributions to Nigeria’s national development through its academic programs, research initiatives, and the production of skilled human resources. The university has produced leaders, professionals, and academics who have shaped the country’s political, economic, and social landscape.

International Recognition and Partnerships

The University of Ibadan has established itself as a reputable institution on the global stage. It has developed partnerships and collaborations with universities and research institutions across the world, enhancing its international profile and contributing to the global academic community.


The University of Ibadan, as Nigeria’s first university, has played a pivotal role in the development of the country’s higher education system. From its humble beginnings as the University College, Ibadan, it has grown into a renowned institution offering a wide range of academic programs and contributing to Nigeria’s national development. The university’s legacy serves as a testament to the importance of higher education in shaping the future of any nation, and its story offers inspiration for other institutions to continue striving for excellence and innovation.

By Sir Yormight

Hi, I'm Sir Yormight, and I'm passionate about education in Nigeria, particularly when it comes to helping students succeed in their JAMB exams. With 7 years of experience as an educator and 9 years as a blogger, I've had the privilege of sharing my knowledge and insights with countless students and parents. As someone who has personally experienced the challenges of JAMB exams, I understand how stressful and overwhelming they can be. That's why I'm committed to providing comprehensive and reliable information to students, parents, and educators through my blog. In addition to writing about JAMB exams, I enjoy staying active by hiking and practicing yoga. I also love exploring new cuisines and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. Thank you for visiting my blog, and I hope my posts can help you achieve success in your JAMB exams and beyond.

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