Top 10 Oldest Universities In Nigeria

In this post, we have compiled a list of the top 10 oldest universities in Nigeria. Even when our 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.

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As earlier stated, the number of universities in Nigeria post independence has continued to grow, seeing the establishment of more federal, state and private universities all over the federation. In this list of the top 10 oldest universities in Nigeria, every tertiary education institution mentioned here are all federal government universities and despite the fact that they are not new generation institutions, they continue to evolve to meet the demands of our ever changing academic world. Below is a list of the oldest universities in our country and their year of establishment.


The following are the top 10 oldest universities in Nigeria and the year they were established:


Established in 1948, the University of Ibadan, 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.


The University of Nigeria, Nsukka is the second oldest university in Nigeria. It 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.

By the year 1965, the University of Nigeria Nsukka had produced two sets of graduates which coincided with the time the University of Ibadan was producing its first set of graduates as an autonomous, individual university after it severed ties with the University of London. This means that UNN is the first university in Nigeria to award purely Nigerian degrees to the first set of graduate students ever in the country.


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. The school currently has over 60 academic departments and was an affiliate of Loma Linda University in the United States of America. The Obafemi Awolowo University was the first to carry out an indigenous renal transplant in the country when its teaching hospital achieved this feat in May 2002.


The 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.


Located in Akoka, Yaba, Lagos State, the 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.

The school is made up of thirteen faculties and currently offers undergraduate programmes, post graduate and Distance Learning Institute programmes to its students. Their Post Graduate Programme has both full time and part time options.


The University of Benin was established in the year 1970 and it is located in Benin City, the capital of Edo State. The school began as an Institute of Technology and was given fill University status by the National Universities Commission (NUC) on July 1, 1971. The change of name of the school from the Institute of Technology to the University of Benin was effected in 1972.

On April 1, 1975, the University at the request of the State Government was taken over by the Federal Government and became a Federal University. The school is a reasearch university in the country and it currently boasts one of the best colleges of Medicine in Nigeria. UNIBEN is also one of the best universities to study pharmacy in Nigeria.


The University of Maiduguri was established by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 1975 and it is located in Maiduguri, the Borno State Capital. The school was created with the the intent of becoming one of the leading higher education institutions in the country. It enrolls about 25,000 students and it has a total of twelve faculties. UNIMAID focuses its research efforts in the fields of agriculture and conflict resolution, and expanding the university press.


The University of Calabar is one of Nigeria’s second generation universities, that is, those universities created just after the 1960s. It is located in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, and it was founded in 1975.  The school was a campus of the University of Nigeria until 1975. It comprises of eighteen faculties and four affiliate institutions. Till date, it remains one of the best universities in Nigeria.


The University of Jos was established in 1975. It is a second generation university that is located in Jos, the capital city of Plateau State. What became the University of Jos was originally a satellite campus of the University of Ibadan in 1972 and by the year 1975, it became a fully-fledged university. About 575 students were enrolled when UNIJOS commenced academic programmes in its foundation year and these students were spread across the 4 faculties of the University which were, the faculties of Arts and Social Sciences, Education, Natural Sciences and Medical Sciences. The school has since developed over the years to a university that houses fifteen faculties.


The University of Ilorin is another second generation university that was established in 1975 and situated in Ilorin, the capital city of Kwara State. Like all other universities preceding it on this list, it is also a federal government university and it is one of the best in the country as well. Many prospective students love to pick UNILORIN as their first choice because of its fast academic calendar.

The school, as at the time it was established, commenced academic activities with 200 students admitted into the three pioneer faculties available at that time which were: the faculties of Arts, Sciences and Education. UNILORIN currently has over 30,000 students enrolled into its various academic programmes as well as over 3,000 staff members. The university currently has 15 faculties with over 60 academic departments, making it one of the biggest universities in the south western part of the country as well as in Nigeria as a whole.

The Author

Maduawuchi Obialo

Maduawuchi Obialo is the founder of Nigerian Guide and the Editor-in-Chief at Nigerian Infopedia. He is a professional Web Content Developer and a Biochemist.

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