About OAU

The History and Development of Africa's Most Beautiful Campus

About OAU

The Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife, Nigeria was established in 1961.  Since that time, it has grown into one of the largest and most prominent institutions of higher education in Africa.  In the 1970’s and early 1980’s, the University of Ife, as it was then called, was one of the foremost universities in sub-Saharan Africa, with a high international reputation.  There was a vibrant academic and social atmosphere.  Students, teachers and researchers came from all over the world to have a share of the unique Ife experience.  The university’s graduates and its research outputs were respected internationally.

Historical Notes

The history of university education in modern Nigeria dates back to 1948, when the University College, Ibadan, was established. For more than a decade, that College remained the only University in Nigeria. Although the Eastern Nigerian Government had enacted a Law establishing the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1955, it was not until 1961 that that University came into existence.

In April 1959, the Federal Government appointed a Commission under the Chairmanship of Sir Eric Ashby, Master of Clare College, Cambridge, to survey the needs of post-secondary and higher education in Nigeria over the following twenty years. The Commission submitted its report to the Federal Government in September 1960. One of the most lasting results of that Commission was the establishment of three Universities in Nigeria between 1961 and 1962. One of these Universities was the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.

The Government of Western Nigeria first announced in 1960 its intention to establish, as soon as possible, a University in Western Nigeria that would be of the highest standard. Its policy would be to open its doors to students from all parts of the Federation and of the world.

The planning of the Obafemi Awolowo University was entrusted to two Committees. The first was the University Planning Committee, comprising persons who are qualified to advise on the planning of a new University, and which in effect, undertook the preparatory work involved in the establishment of the University, pending the setting up of a Provisional Council. The other was a University Parliamentary Committee, which was advisory to the Minister of Education. On June 8, 1961, the Law providing for the establishment of the Provisional Council of the University was enacted, and the Council was formally inaugurated under the Chairmanship of Chief Rotimi Williams.

On June 11, 1970, the Government of the Western State promulgated the University of Ife Edict, 1970 to replace the Provisional Council Law of June 8, 1961. This Edict was later amended by the University of Ife (Amendment) Edict No. 11 of 1975 {now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife (Amendment) Edict No. 11 of 1975}. In 1975, it was further amended by the University of Ife (Transitional Provisions) Act of August 27, 1975 {now Obafemi Awolowo University (Transitional Provisions) Act}. The Act effected a take over of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife by the Federal Military Government and established a Provisional Council as an interim governing body for the University, which, subject to the general direction of the Head of the Federal Government, was to control the policies and the finances of the University, and manage its affairs. A Governing Council has since replaced this Provisional Council.

In February 1988, the Obafemi Awolowo University (Transitional Provisions) Act or former University of Ife (Transitional Provisions Act) was amended by the University of Ife (Transitional Provisions) (Amendment) Act 1988. The Act effected a change in the name of the University from “University of Ife” to “Obafemi Awolowo University” in honour of the Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, one of the founding fathers of the University.

The site selected for the University was at Ile-Ife, a town of about 80 kilometres northeast of Ibadan, in Osun State. Ile-Ife, at that time, with a population of about130, 000 people, is famous as the centre of an ancient civilization and home of the Museum, which contains the renowned Ife heads. It was intended that temporary buildings should be put up on the site to enable teaching to commence in October 1962, while the permanent buildings were being planned and erected. However, when the Federal Government transferred the Ibadan Branch of the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology to the University, it was decided that it would not be necessary to put up temporary buildings at Ile-Ife and the University was temporarily located on the site of the Ibadan Campus of the College.

Teaching began in October 1962 with an initial enrolment of 244 students, and about 80 teaching, administrative and technical staff. The take-off site was the campus of the defunct Nigerian College of Science and Technology, Ibadan.

The University started with five Faculties – Agriculture, Arts, Economics and Social Studies (now Social Sciences), Law and Science. Additional Faculties have since been added, namely: the Faculty of Education, established on October 1, 1967; Faculty of Pharmacy on October 1, 1969; Faculty of Technology in 1970. The Faculty of Health Science (now College of Health Sciences) was established on October 1, 1970. The Faculty of Administration replaced the former Institute of Administration with effect from October 1, 1979 and the Faculty of Environmental Design and Management was established on April 6, 1982. The Postgraduate School (now Postgraduate College) was established on 1st August, 1981.

In 1992, the University established a Collegiate System with five Colleges. This was, however, discontinued two years later, leaving only two colleges – the Postgraduate College and the College of Health Sciences, now comprising Faculties of Basic Medical Sciences, Clinical Sciences, and Dentistry and an Institute of Public Health.

Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo was an integral component of the University until 1995, when it was administratively disarticulated from the University. Nonetheless, it still retained an affiliate status, offering the degrees of the University. The Institute of Agricultural Research & Training (IAR&T), Ibadan, was transferred to and became a constituent of the University in 1975. However, two of its constituents – the School of Agriculture, Akure and the School of Agriculture and Animal Health, Ibadan were administratively disarticulated from the University in 1991.

Other Institutes and major Units in the University include the following:

  1. African Institute of Science, Policy and Innovation
  2. Central Technological Laboratory Workshop
  3. Central Science Laboratory
  4. Centre for Distance Learning (CDL)
  5. Central Office of Research (COR)
  6. Centre for Gender and Social Policy Studies
  7. Computer Centre
  8. Drug Research and Production Unit
  9. Equipment Maintenance and Development Centre
  10. Industrial Training & Coordinating Unit
  11. Information Technology and Communications Unit
  12. Institute of Cultural Studies
  13. Institute of Ecology and Environmental Studies
  14. Institute of Education
  15. Institute of Public Health
  16. Institute for Entrepreneurship and Development Studies (IFEDS)
  17. Intellectual Property and TechnologyTransfer Office (IPTTO)
  18. Linkages and Partnership Office
  19. Leventis Museum of Natural History
  20. OAU Investment Company Limited

The University is also host to a number of national and international Research Centres, which include;

  1. African Regional Centre for Space Science and Education in English (ARCSSTE)
  2. Centre for Energy Research and Development (CERD)
  3. National Centre for Technology Management (NACETEM)
  4. Regional Centre for Training in Aerospace Surveys (RECTAS)

Plans are currently at an advanced stage for the development of a Technology Park, an Industrial Park, as well as the establishment of a Business School.

The Development of the University

The University has a land area of about 5,605 hectares, out of which 1,012 hectares have been developed as the central campus, 1214 hectares set aside for the Teaching and Research Farm, and another 2,023 hectares earmarked for Commercial Farm. An additional area of approximately 6,256 hectares along the Ife/Ede Road was also acquired.

The first movement to the permanent site at Ile-Ife was on 29th January, 1967, when 500 students of the Faculties of Arts, Social Sciences and Law came into residence. The Faculty of Agriculture and the Departments of Botany and Zoology moved to Ile-Ife in January 1968.

The Faculty of Pharmacy followed in 1972. The Faculty of Law moved into its own building on October 14, 1981, while the Faculty of Social Sciences moved into its building in September 1982. The Library building has been in use since October 1, 1969. An extension to the Library was completed and occupied in 1982.

The Faculty of Science buildings were completed in 1970. It now accommodates the Departments of Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Electronics and Electrical Engineering. The Department of Geology has its own building which, it has occupied since 1974.

The Sports Centre has been progressively developed. An Olympic Size swimming pool was added to the sports facilities in 2013. Additional students’ hostels have been completed to facilitate accommodation of students on campus. There is an ultra-modern Conference Centre and Guest Houses, which are are currently being expanded.

The attractive and spacious buildings of the Biological Sciences and Pre-Clinical Sciences were completed and occupied at the beginning of the 1974/75 academic session. The buildings of the Faculty of Administration and the Central Administration Secretariat – the University Hall – were ready for occupation during the long vacation in1974, and have been in full use since then. The Indoor Sports Hall, the Students Union Building, the Department of Food Science and Technology building, the Chemical Engineering buildings and the Staff Canteen were also completed in 1974.

The Assembly Hall, otherwise known as “Oduduwa Hall”, was completed during the year 1976. The College of Health Sciences buildings were completed and occupied in1978, while the University Teaching Centre, now known as Ajose Lecture Theatre, was completed and put to use in 1983.

The Power Station was commissioned in 1977. The Opa Dam and Water Works was commissioned in December 1980. The construction of a one-million-gallon water reservoir was completed subsequently.

The Akintola Hall, the Computer Science and Engineering Building Complex and the Civil Engineering Building Complex are among the more recent developments in the University. The Central Science Laboratory was commissioned in 2000 and the Institute of Cultural Studies building in 2001. The new Faculty of Environmental Design and Management Buildings have virtually been completed and are in use, remaining only the external landscaping works. The Mathematics and First Year Laboratory buildings have also been completed, and in use.

In 2008, the University commenced the development of its northern boundary with the completion of three 500-Capacity Lecture theatres being used by the Centre for Distance Learning at Moro for its Pre-degree and other programmes. On the main campus, a 500-Capacity Lecture Theatre donated by First Bank Plc, has been completed and is now in use. Other projects that have beautifully impacted positively on the landscape of the University include the 1000-Capacity Lecture Theatre sited close to the Department of Architecture and Moremi Hall, the Postgraduate College building donated by an Alumnus, Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim and the Leventis Museum of Natural History building completed by the Leventis Foundation of London.Other recently completed buildings and already in use are the Institute of Ecology Building,  the new Faculties of Law and Administration Buildings, Faculty of Education Extension, donated by friends of an Alumnus and a former staff of the University, Professor Dibu Ojerinde.

Accommodation comprising some 10,000 bed spaces is provided for male undergraduate students in four Halls of Residence (i.e Awolowo, Fajuyi, Angola and ETF Halls); and for female undergraduates in International Students and Parakin Hostels, Moremi, Mozambique, Akintola, Alunmi Halls of Residence. The Postgraduate Students are accommodated in the Murtala Mohammed Postgraduate Hall and there is a Clinical Students’ Hostel at the grounds of the University’s Teaching Hospitals Complex.

The University gives prority to harnessing and adapting modern technologies in the effectuation of its objectives. It also emphasizes the concept of the Omoluabi which entails hard work, integrity, public spiritedness, and an honour code comparable to the best in the world. The University has thus continued to strive for excellence in keeping faith with its objectives. It has also continued to place great emphasis on keeping pace with modern technological developments. In this respect, the Obafemi Awolowo University has one of the best-developed Information and Communications Technology (ICT) system in the country, with its own V-SAT access to the internet and a very efficient intranet. The University has, in its effort at ensuring the efficiency of the intra and internet facilities, upgraded the bandwidth capacity with the help of the World Bank STEP-B Project. The University has also embarked on the progressive application of ICT to all its functions and services – academic, research and administration. The University is continually evolving in response to the needs of the Nation and the international community. The University became the World Bank Centre of Excellence in Software Engineering and commissioned its Knowledge Park in 2018.

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