The origin of the University of Ibadan can be traced to the Yaba College which was established in 1932 in Yaba, Lagos. The Yaba College was the first tertiary educational institute in the country.
In 1948, the Yaba College was transferred to Ibadan and the product of this process was the University College of Ibadan. On the day the college was founded, the British Secretary of the State for the Colonies, Arthur Creech Jones led the inauguration ceremony of the institution. It was on the 17th of November, 1948.
This college was initially established as an extension of the University of London. As a result, its grading system was tied to the British University. This arrangement continued until shortly after Nigeria became an independent country.
The university was established on what is today its permanent site. The campus underwent a major expansion in 1957 which was part of the process of creating the College of Medicine which included a 500-bed teaching hospital. This hospital would later be known as the University College Hospital (UCH).
The University of Ibadan (UI) is the only university in the country that was established before the country gained independence.
The institution eventually became autonomous in 1960, the same year the country became independent. However, it wasn’t until 1962 that UI completely severed its links with the University of London. A year later, the first Prime Minister of the country, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was appointed as the first Chancellor of the University.
The first-ever Nigerian Vice Chancellor, Kenneth Dike was the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan. He left the University during the Nigerian Civil War and moved to Harvard University in Boston, United States. Kenneth Dike was a prominent Nigerian historian and the founder of the Ibadan School which played a pivotal part in writing about the History of Nigeria until the 1970s. The school’s library is named after him.
UI as it is popularly called has 13 colleges which include:
- Colleges of Medicine,
- College Agriculture and Forestry,
- Faculty of Law,
- Faculty of Education,
- Faculty of Public Health,
- Faculty of Veterinary Medicine,
- Faculty of Technology
- Faculty of Social Sciences
- Faculty of Arts
- Faculty of Applied Science
The largest faculties are in the Social Sciences, Arts, and Applied Science.
The school’s campus has 13 halls of residence for both undergraduate and graduate students. Other facilities in the university include a botanical garden, a zoological garden as well as the University Media Centre, which houses the campus radio station.
One interesting thing about the design of the halls of residence is that these hostels are not identical and this was quite intentional. These halls were designed by different people
For instance, the Mellanby, Tedder, Kuti, Sultan Bello and Queen Elizabeth II Halls were designed by Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew.
Messrs Watkins Gray and Partners designed Alexander Brown Hall as a part of the overall design of the University College Hospital Complex.
The Independence and Nnamdi Azikiwe Halls were designed by Messrs Design Group (Nigeria) Ltd.
Obafemi Awolowo Hall was designed by Allied Group of Architects, while Tafawa Balewa and Idia Halls were designed by Messrs Aderele-Omisore-Adebanjo Associates.
The Federal Ministry of Works designed the Abdusalami Abubakar Hall.
Apart from the Faculties, UI has other academic units which include:
- African Regional Centre for Information Science (ARCIS),
- Centre for Child Adolescent and Mental Health,
- Centre for Control & Prevention of Zoonosis (CCPZ),
- Centre for Drug Discovery, Development & Production (CDDDP),
- Centre for Educational Media Resource Studies,
- Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI),
- Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CEPACS),
- Centre for Petroleum, Energy, Economics and Law (CPEEL),
- Centre for Sustainable Development (CESDEV),
- Institute for Advanced Medical Research and Training (IAMRAT),
- Institute of African Studies,
- Institute of Child Health,
- Institute of Education.
The University of Ibadan was set-up with a vision to become a world-class institution for academic excellence geared towards meeting societal needs and a mission to expand the frontiers of knowledge through provision of excellent conditions for learning and research.
UI is known to have produced several notable alumni. Some of these include:
- Chinua Achebe, a prominent Nigerian writer
- Emeka Anyaoku, former Commonwealth Secretary-General
- Farida Mzamber Waziri, the Chairperson of the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
- Grace Alele-Williams, the first female Vice-Chancellor in Nigeria. She was the Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin
- P. Clark, Nigerian poet and playwright
- Kayode Fayemi, former Governor of Ekiti State
- Kenule “Ken” Saro-Wiwa, an environmental and political activist, who was executed in 1995 by the Federal Military Government for his role in protesting foreign oil company exploitation of Niger Delta people and their resources.
- Michael Omolewa, former President of UNESCO General Conference and Ambassador of Nigeria to UNESCO
- William Kumuyi, Founder and General Superintendent of Deeper Christian Life Ministry
- Wole Soyinka who became the first African to win a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986
The University of Ibadan Postgraduate School is well known both within and outside the country as one of the largest in Africa. The University’s Postgraduate training produces enough human capital for the entire Nigerian University system as well as the Nigerian public and private sectors.
Currently, the Postgraduate School enrolment takes about 50% of the entire student enrolment. Each year, the University of Ibadan produces an average of 3,000 Masters & 250 PhDs.
Also, UI currently hosts the Pan African University Life & Earth Sciences Institute on behalf of the West African Subregion. This programme is an initiative of the African Union. So far, the programme has brought together over 100 students from different parts of Africa.
As of 2017, the University of Ibadan was ranked the best university in the country. Also, the University was the first Nigerian tertiary institution to make the top 1000 universities in world according to the Times Higher Education rankings.
Recently, a student from the University of Ibadan, Ozibo Ekele emerged as the first ever student in Department of History to graduate with a first class degree. Mr Ozibo graduated with a cumulative GPA of 6.6.