Top 10 Oldest Universities In Nigeria

What universities are the oldest universities in Nigeria? Education in Nigeria did not start today, and although the standard of the average tertiary education in the country has been on a decline, things were not always like this.

You see there was a time in Nigeria that every educational institution at all levels of learning provided top notch quality tuition and non-academic services.

The universities at the time never settled for anything less, be it the curriculum, student accommodation, lecturers’ salary and campus infrastructure and facilities (both academic and non-academic).

But since the deterioration of the Nigerian government due to corruption and ineptitude, there has been a rising decline in the standard of education even at the university level, leading to the shutting down and closure of many universities that were in existence back then.

In spite of all these issues there are still some old universities in Nigeria that beat the odds and still stand strong even until this very day. While some struggle to maintain their past glories, other universities have surrendered to their fate and are just happy to not fade into obscurity.

Today, we are going to take an educational trip down memory lane and visit the top ten oldest universities in Nigeria. For this list, we shall take into account, both federal and state universities.

Top 10 Oldest Universities In Nigeria

10. University of Ilorin

Coming in at tenth place is the University of Ilorin or UNILORIN as it is loosely called today. It can be found in the heart of Kwara state’s capital city; Ilorin and is home to thousands of students today.

Originally founded in 1975 with the intention of being an extension of the University of Ibadan, UNILORIN finally gained its independence and became officially acknowledged as its own University by the government towards the ending of 1977, making it the 10th oldest university in the country.

9. University of Jos

UNIJOS is the ninth oldest university in Nigeria. UNIJOS as it is referred to today, was initially established to serve as a satellite campus to the already popular University of Ibadan just like UNILORIN.

It however gained its autonomy thanks to the intervention of General Murtala Mohamed in 1975, 4 years after it began to function.

A year after it was opened, the school officially had its first lecture session with just 575 students shared across four (4) different faculties, a far cry from its current student population which is estimated at 30,000 students across 14 different faculties.

8. University of Calabar

This University was also formed in in 1975 but in the earlier periods of that year.

People fondly refer to it as UNICAL and it is proudly a record holder as the first Nigerian University to ever automate its student registration by using this own generated portal; an act that revolutionized university admission management procedures across the country.

7. University of Maiduguri

Fondly called UNIMAID, was the first University to be founded in the year 1975 in Nigeria. This school started with less than 500 students on campus and 4 faculties only.

It however has risen exponentially over the decades to accommodate 36,000 plus students and 12 faculties today.

In recent times, as a result of the insurgencies and insecurities faced by that region, the government has decided to prioritize safety and security over education, leading to a steep drop in the learning curve in this university.

6. University of Benin

One of the oldest universities in Nigeria is UNIBEN. UNIBEN was initially founded as an institute of technology as early as 1970, however, after a series of examinations and trials were carried out by the NUC, it was agreed that the institution be recognized as a fully-fledged university.

After being governed by the state for five (5) years, its management and administration were taken over by the federal government in 1975, making it an official federal university.

It is located along the outskirts of Benin city, the capital of Edo state in Southern Nigeria. The school still tries to maintain its standard considering its years of knowledge and academic heritage. 

5. University of Lagos

The 70s was a period in Nigeria that experienced a rapid rise in the establishment of Universities around the country, but if we go further than that, we are bound to discover a few more schools that were set up before that period, one of which is the University of Lagos or UNILAG as it is loosely termed today.

It was formed just two years after the country finally had its independence, yes UNILAG was established in the year 1962 and stands tall till this day, having recorded the highest enrollment in the country since its formation.

It has grown to have two campuses and 13 faculties since it was created.

4. Ahmadu Bello University

Initially called the Northern University of Nigeria, ABU Zaria as it is popularly referred to today was also established in 1962, only a few months before the formation of the UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS.

It was later named after the Northern Premier; Sir Ahmadu Bello. Early in the day, it had just two lecturers that were actually Nigerians as the rest were all British.

It also boasted of 527 students and 14 departments that were all shared across its 4 faculties.

3. Obafemi Awolo University

It was founded in 1961 as the University of Ife, it was later renamed in the year 1987 in order to honor the Western Premier Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

The school was actually created for a myriad of reasons among which was to fix a few of the inadequacies that the University of Ibadan experienced at the time.

It is recorded to be the University to start the first school of pharmacy in all of West Africa, as well as chemical, Electrical and Electronics Engineering departments in that region of the world.

2. University of Nigeria, Nsukka

This is one of the oldest universities in the country that has still not been renamed. It was established in 1955 and commenced academic activities towards the ending of 1960.

It began with 220 pioneering students and 13 lecturers who were meant to facilitate the classes for all 4 departments at the time.

The university was formed due to the need to establish a Tertiary institution in the eastern part of Nigeria, a decision that was championed and overseen by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, who was the premiere of the eastern region back then.

1. University of Ibadan

This is probably the only University in the country that has somewhat maintained its past academic glory since 1948 during its establishment.

It was initially created as a college of London but was later officially recognized as a fully-fledged University in 1961.

The university is ranked as the best University in Nigeria and the 10th best performing university in all of Africa.

On the world stage, it is ranked 1196 globally, but most importantly for our list, UI; as it is usually called, is ranked as the oldest university in Nigeria.

Conclusion: If you noticed, most of the Universities on this list are found in the western region of the country.

This is because that region of the country was more accepting of western ideals and education and more open to learning about the western world compared to the other parts of the country.

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