5 Oldest Nigerian Universities Still Ranking High Today


The higher education system of Nigeria is one of the oldest and most prestigious in Africa. These universities have sustained a long and rich history, as well as being at the forefront of academic excellence in the country. According to Naijassador, these are the top 5 oldest Universities in Nigeria and how they are ranked.

1. University of Ibadan (UI)

The University of Ibadan UI was founded in the year 1948. It was established as an institute affiliated to the University of London and it soon developed its own identity and was granted a Royal Charter in 1962. UI has well-known research programs in fields such as medicine, science, biology and human sciences. The university also hosts notable alumni like the former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka amongst many other great academics, national politicians, lawyers and businessmen. The University houses several research institutes and centers, which include: The Institute of African Studies; and the Centre for Petroleum, Energy Economics and Law. UI consistently ranks among the top universities in Nigeria and is often featured in the top 20 universities in Africa

2. University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN)

The University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) was established in 1955 by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe the first President of Nigeria. As the first third-level educational institution to be established in Nigeria, it was also the first full-fledged indigenous and autonomous university in Nigeria, modelled upon the American educational system. UNN has a reputation for academic excellence and has produced laureates hailing from various parts of the world. The University has had a large participation in scientific research, also in the field of agronomy, engineering and other natural sciences. The Institute of African Studies, at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, has been instrumental in promoting Nigerian culture and values. The University of Nigeria, Nsukka is still one of the top universities in Nigeria today and often ranks high in national and continental rankings due to its excellent work in research and academics.

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3. Ahmadu Bello University (ABU)

Named after the Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello, ABU is one of Nigeria’s largest universities in terms of land mass and student population. The university was Founded in 1962 to cater to the educational needs of the people of Northern Nigeria. The university offers a broad spectrum of undergraduate and post-graduate disciplines in humanities, sciences, engineering and medical sciences. It is famous for its research, particularly in agriculture, veterinary science and the sciences. It is known as the home of some of the most important politicians, teachers, and businessmen from Nigeria and Abu. ABU is one of the recognized universities in Nigeria, it is ranked high among the top-notch federal institutions of higher learning and is also known for its comprehensive academic programs.

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4. Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU)

OAU itself was formerly called the University of Ife and was re-christened after Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Nigeria’s leading nationalist leader. Since 1962 OAU has been a university recognized for its strategic campus and outstanding academic programs. The Israeli architect Arieh Sharon designed OAU’s distinctive modernist campus. The university was noted for its high academic standards, and it offered many programs in the fine arts, sciences, and professional fields. The school is known as a research and innovation hub; primarily in the areas of Health Sciences, Technology and Social Sciences, thereby contributing to national development. Constantly ranked amongst the best in Nigeria, OAU is a research-intensive University with a reputation for excellence and quality delivery.

5. University of Lagos (UNILAG)

The University of Lagos, popularly known as UNILAG is a federal university in Nigeria which was established in 1962. Based in the commercial nerve center of Lagos, UNILAG is known for its academic advancements as well as a very vibrant campus life. Its Lagos location also opens up its students to greater internship, collaboration and job opportunities in one of Africa’s Largest cities if not the largest. The university has a reputation for innovation and discoveries in the sciences, engineering and business. The University of Lagos has a very strong alumni base and graduates in business, entertainment, politics and academia. UNILAG is one of Nigeria’s top universities and has well-strengthened programs and research experiences.

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These five universities not only represent the rich history of higher education in Nigeria but also continue to play a crucial role in shaping the future of the country. Their sustained commitment to academic excellence, research innovation, and societal impact ensures they remain at the forefront of Nigeria’s educational landscape. As they continue to adapt to new challenges and opportunities, these institutions will undoubtedly keep their place among the top universities in Nigeria and Africa.

Written by Sarah Aboje


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