The University of Lagos was founded in 1962 and has for over 5 decades contributed to development of the nation through the inculcation of knowledge to her students and alumnus. At inception of the university, UNILAG was empowered to produce a qualified workforce of professionals who will contribute to the social, economic and political development of the newly independent country. The university has built a legacy of academic excellence being regarded publicly as “the University of First Choice and the Nation’s Pride.”
The establishment of the university in 1962 was informed by the need to create a workforce that will take up professional positions in the newly independent nation of Nigeria that was in search of economic and rapid development. There was a great space to be filled that required the setting up more universities in the country.
This led the Federal Government to establishing the Eric Ashby Commission on Post School Certificate and Higher Education in Nigeria in May 1959. The Ashby Commission report that was titled Investment in Education recommended the establishment of the University of Lagos, Lagos (the then Federal Capital), to offer day and evening courses in Commerce, Business Administration, Economics and Higher Management Studies.
In 1961 the detailed planning of the University was assigned to UNESCO Advisory Commission. The Ashby Commission was proposing a non-residential university that will be in the business district of Lagos whereas UNESCO Commission wanted a traditional university, “a complete all encompassing university” with residential accommodation on a large university campus. The UNESCO advisory report was accepted which led to the establishment of the University of Lagos on the 22nd of October, 1962 on the authority of the University of Lagos Act of 1962.
The Act however recommended a 11-member Provisional Council of the University, a Senate to oversee academic affairs and separate Council that is for the Medical School located at the University Teaching Hospital in Idi-Araba, few kilometers from the Akoka main campus. This therefore created two separate institutions; the main campus university and the autonomous medical school.
The university started with three faculties; Commerce and Business Administration, Law and Medicine. During their first board meeting the faculty of Commerce and Business Administration changed its name to faculty of Business and Social Studies. The faculty of Arts, Education, Engineering and Science were included in 1964.
For its first academic session of 1962/1963 the university admitted 46 students in the faculty of Commerce and Business Administration and 26 students in the faculty of law. The students received their first lectures on 22 October, 1962 at a classroom in a secondary at Idi-Araba adjacent to the Medical school and Teaching Hospital. For the medical students, 28 of them already started lectures three weeks earlier on the 3rd October, 1962. The university by September 1965 moved from the temporary site in Idi-Araba to the main campus located in Akoka. The university began a restructuring program after the promulgation of University of Lagos Decree 1967 (Decree No. 3 1967). This led to the establishment a more inclusive and coherent university with a single council as against the previous arrangement of having two different councils for the University and the Medical School.
This meant that the school of medicine ceased to exist as a separate institution but became part of the main university under a single senate. To ensure autonomy in the running of some of specialized areas in the university, a collegiate system was adopted; the medical school became the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, the faculty of business and social studies was divided into School of Administration and School of School of Studies, the Federal Advanced Teachers College was integrated as the College of Education. The Institute of Computer Sciences and Institute of Mass Communication were founded in 1967 and became teaching units after a year. The Institute of Child Health was formed in 1969.
Over the years the university has evolved into the following faculties; Arts, Business Administration, Education, Environmental Design, Science and Social Sciences. The College of Medicine however retained its autonomy and name. The School of Post-Graduate Studies also known as the ‘The Lagoon Lighthouse’ was set up 22 July 1981. The Federal University of Technology, Abeokuta was merged with UNILAG in 1984. The University has a School of Post-Graduate Studies, Distance Learning Institute with a total of twelve faculties including;
- Basic Medical Sciences
- Business Administration
- Clinical Sciences
- Dental Sciences
- Environmental Sciences
- Social Sciences