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The University of Nigeria, Nsukka commonly referred to as UNN, is a federal university located in Nsukka, Enugu State, Nigeria and it was founded by Nnamdi Azikiwe in 1955 and formally opened on 7 October 1960. The University of Nigeria has four campuses – Nsukka, Enugu, and Ituku-Ozalla – all located in Enugu State and Aba campus in Abia State.

UNN: The First Full-Fledged Indigenous and Autonomous University

Classes began on 17 October 1960 with an enrollment of 220 students and 13 members of the academic staff. The opening convocation addresses were delivered by the Chairman of the Provisional Council, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first President of the Federation of Nigeria, and by Dr. John A. Hannah, President of Michigan State University, USA. At that time, in 1960, the University was fully autonomous, with the power to grant its own degrees.

Therefore, technically, it became the first fully-fledged university in Nigeria, since Ibadan was still at that time a university college granting London degrees. It also became the first university established by a Nigerian Regional Government. The University College Ibadan, the oldest degree-awarding institution, cut its umbilical cord with London in January 1963 and became the University of Ibadan as it is known. In July 1967, it turned out the first graduates holding Ibadan (rather than London) degrees, by which time Nsukka had produced two crops of graduates and taken all the publicity for turning out the first graduates of an autonomous Nigerian university.

The University of Nigeria, Nsukka therefore, was the first full-fledged indigenous and autonomous university in Nigeria, modelled upon the American educational system. It is also the first land-grant university in Africa and one of the five universities in Nigeria with the highest reputation. The university has 15 Academic Faculties and 102 academic departments. It also has over 46 Lecture theatres, 38 laboratories, 20 workshops. The University offers 82 undergraduate programs and 211 postgraduate programmes including in the fields of Arts, Agriculture, Engineering, Sciences, Medicine, Management Sciences.

With over 20,000 students, the University remains one of the few institutions in Africa that offers research and courses in Astronomy at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. UNN is affiliated with the Institute of African Studies; Institute of Education; Institute of Developmental Studies; Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN); and the Association of African Universities (AAU).

Other Interesting Facts about the University of Nigeria, Nsukka

  • The first open-heart surgical operation in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa was undertaken in 1974 at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu. The team was led by visiting Professor Yacoub from the UK and others in the team included Professors F.A. Udekwu and Anyanwu. The College of Medicine has since evolved into the centre for cardiothoracic surgery and tropical cardiology excellence for the West Africa region with the siting of the National Cardiothoracic Center at UNTH Enugu.
  • The Law Faculty of the University is the oldest in Nigeria; it was established in 1960. It has contributed to legal education in Nigeria and has trained lawyers such as the former Vice President; Alex Ekwueme, in law practice.
  • The Department of Electronic Engineering was named a Center of Excellence in Electronics by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 1982. It is one of the most sought after programs to study at the university. The department has consistently produced the Best Graduating Student of the University and Best Graduating Student in the Faculty of Engineering. It is the first and only school in Nigeria to have Electronics Engineering as an Independent Department.
  • The official name of the University is the University of Nigeria and the official acronym of the name UNN. “UN” stands for the University of Nigeria while the last “N” stands for Nsukka. This acronym is also shared by the main campus of the University, Nsukka (University of Nigeria, Nsukka). Thus technically, the name the University of Nigeria, Nsukka refers to the main campus at Nsukka only while the name the University of Nigeria refers to all the campuses of the University.
  • References may be made to the location of the other campuses by mentioning the names of the cities where they are situated rather than a blanket description with the name Nsukka. Students at the Enugu Campus prefer to write the name of their school as University of Nigeria Enugu Campus (UNEC) if they must add the location of their school. Students from other campuses of the school also prefer the same. However, official documents of the school describe the school as simply the University of Nigeria. They also make the dichotomy when referring to different campuses of the school.
  • The University has four campuses – Nsukka (University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN), Enugu (University of Nigeria Enugu Campus, UNEC), Ituku-Ozalla (University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, UNTH) and Aba (University of Nigeria Aba campus, UNAC).
  • UNN has a great number of notable nominees, some of which include the Vice-President and Treasurer of World Bank, Arunma Oteh; Governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Charles C. Soludo, Godwin Emefiele; Former Vice-President of the World Bank, Obiageli Ezekwesili and many other dignitaries.
  • UNN is the first self–governing university in Nigeria and Its motto is “To restore the dignity of man.”



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This article was first published on 26th October 2019


Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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