Makerere University

Coordinates: 00°20′06″N 32°34′03″E / 0.33500°N 32.56750°E / 0.33500; 32.56750
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Makerere University
The Main Administration block for Makerere University, normally called the Main Building.
Motto"We build for the future"
Established1970; 53 years ago (1970)
ChancellorEzra Suruma[1]
Vice-ChancellorBarnabas Nawangwe[2][3]
Administrative staff
3,174 (2018)[4]
Students35,000+ (2018)[5]
00°20′06″N 32°34′03″E / 0.33500°N 32.56750°E / 0.33500; 32.56750
CampusUrban, 300 acres
Makerere University is located in Kampala
Makerere University
Location in Kampala

Makerere University (/məˈkɛrəri/;[6] Mak) is Uganda's largest and oldest institution of higher learning, first established as a technical school in 1922. It became an independent national university in 1970. Today, Makerere University is composed of nine colleges and one school offering programmes for about 36,000 undergraduates and 4,000 postgraduates. The main administrative block was gutted by fire in September 2020 and the cause of the fire is yet to be established.[7]

U.S. News & World Report has ranked Makerere University as the eighth best university in Africa and the 569th best university worldwide.[8] In the 2020 U.S. News & World Report ranking, Makerere is the highest-ranked university in sub-Saharan Africa outside of South Africa.[9] The Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2016 ranked it as the fourth best university in Africa.[10]

Makerere University is the alma mater of many post-independence African leaders, including Ugandan president Milton Obote[11] and Tanzanian presidents Julius Nyerere and Benjamin Mkapa.[12] The former president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Joseph Kabila, and former Kenyan president the late Mwai Kibaki are also Makerere alumni.

In the years immediately after Uganda's independence, Makerere University was a focal point for the literary activity that was central to African nationalist culture. Many prominent writers, including Nuruddin Farah, Ali Mazrui, David Rubadiri, Okello Oculi, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, John Ruganda, Paul Theroux, Nobel Prize laureate V. S. Naipaul, and Peter Nazareth, were at Makerere University at one point in their writing and academic careers.

Because of student unrest and faculty disenchantment, the university was closed three times between 2006 and 2016. The final time was on 1 November 2016 when President Yoweri Museveni declared it closed indefinitely.[13] The university was reopened in January 2017.[14]


Department of Chemistry, CONAS 2018; Taken by: Gyagenda Marvin Paul
Faculty of Information Technology Building, Makerere University

Founding of the technical school[edit]

The trade school that became Makerere University began operating in 1921 with the first classes in carpentry, building construction and mechanics.[15] In 1922 it was founded as the "Uganda Technical College" with additional courses in the arts, education, agriculture and medicine.[15][16] That same year it was again renamed as Makerere College.[15] In 1928, the vocational classes were separated from the college and renamed Kampala Technical School.[15] In 1937 the college began offering post-secondary education certificate courses.[16]


In 1943, the British Protectorate government proposed the university, which led to a controversial struggle. It was described as "a plot to steal African soil for European settlement," by the Bataka Party. In response to this campaign, there was rioting in the capital of Kampala.[17]

In 1949 Makerere College was granted university status and its name became Makerere College, University of East Africa.[18] In the same year, the Bataka Party had been banned by the British Protectorate government, because of acts of riot and arson committed after a Bataka protest gathering.[19]

Unrest in the 2000s[edit]

The university was closed three times between 2006 and 2016.[20]

Beginning on 1 August 2016, the non-teaching staff went on strike demanding their back pay. The strike lasted three weeks and the government agreed to pay them by the end of October; however, the government failed to do so.[21] This was but one more broken promise in the cycle of failed promises, strikes and more promises.[20] That strike was followed by a strike of the lecturers over unpaid incentive pay, and that strike was joined by students in solidarity. This led to President Yoweri Museveni closing the university "indefinitely".[20] Additional protests, including from parents whose children were left hanging in mid-semester, led to Museveni appointing a special commission to try to rectify the situation but with no promises of reopening. The commission's report was due in late February 2017.[13]

On the 20th of September, 2020, the main building of Makerere University (the Ivory Tower) was severely damaged by fire,[22] allegedly following a probe by Uganda Parliament into financial mismanagement by university authorities.[23][24]

100 Years Anniversary[edit]

Makerere University's first administrative building

In 2022, the university celebrated its centenary since its establishment as Makerere College in 1922. The institution was granted additional land for expansion into a university by Nsibirwa, a former Prime Minister of the Buganda Kingdom, in 1945. Despite facing numerous challenges in Uganda's political, social, and academic history, the institution has persevered for a century.[25][26]

On October 7, 2022, a ceremony commemorating the centenary was held at Freedom Square, with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in attendance. A statue monument was unveiled at the entrance of the university's Freedom Square to mark this significant milestone in Uganda's educational sector.[27]

University rankings
Global – Overall
CWUR World[28]923 (2020-2021)
CWTS World[29]1159 (2020)
QS World[30]1001+ (2021)
THE World[31]401–500 (2021)
USNWR Global[32]=631 (2021)
Regional – Overall
THE Africa[33]=5 (2021)
USNWR Africa[34]14 (2021)
National – Overall
CWTS National[29]1 (2020)
CWUR National[28]1 (2020-21)
THE National[31]1 (2021)


The University Council is the supreme governing body of the university while the Senate is the chief academic organ of the university.

Subcommittees of the University Council[edit]

  • Appointments Board [35]
  • Finance, Planning and Administration[36]
  • Quality Assurance, Gender and ICT[37]
  • Estates and Works[38]
  • Staff Development, Welfare and Retirement Benefits[39]
  • Students Affairs and Disciplinary[40]
  • Honorary Awards[41]
  • Audit[42]

Notable former and current faculty administrators[edit]

Other academics[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

List of Makerere University academics

Political figures and government employees[edit]

Film, television and radio[edit]

Sports people[edit]

Writers and journalists[edit]



Halls of residence[edit]

As of September 2015, the halls of residence at Makerere University included the following:[53]

For men[edit]

The Gongom monument at Lumumba Hall
  • Livingstone Hall
  • Lumumba Hall
  • Mitchell Hall
  • Nkrumah Hall
  • Nsibirwa Hall
  • University Hall

For women[edit]

  • Africa Hall
  • Mary Stuart Hall
  • Complex Hall

For students of medicine in their final years[edit]

  • Galloway House

Postgraduate Hall[edit]

  • Dag Hammarskjöld Hostel

Upcountry campuses[edit]

In January 2010, the university announced the opening of two new campuses, one in the city of Fort Portal, approximately 310 kilometres (190 mi), by road, west of Kampala, and another one in the city of Jinja, approximately 85 kilometres (53 mi), by road, east of Kampala. The following courses will be offered at the upcountry campuses:[54]

Eastern Campus, Jinja[edit]

Replacement of main building[edit]

In September 2020 a fire gutted the Main Building of Makerere University, normally called the Main Building, destroying university records and the building structure.[7] A subsequent investigation by an eleven-person team could not establish a definite cause of the fire but pointed to an electric fault as a likely cause.[55]

In August 2021, the Cabinet of Uganda resolved to break down what remained of the Main Building after the fire. A new building, which will be designed to look like the original structure, will be erected at the same location, at a budgeted cost of UGX:21 billion (approx. US$6 million).[56]

The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract was awarded to Excel Construction Company Limited. a Ugandan company and a subsidiary of the Madhvani Group. The reconstruction process began in April 2022, starting with tearing down the structurally unsound original building, built in the 1930s and commissioned in 1941.[57]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ahimbisibwe, Patience (18 January 2016). "Dr. Suruma Installed Makerere Chancellor". Daily Monitor. Kampala. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  2. ^ Mukhaye, Damali (25 August 2017). "Prof Nawangwe confirmed Makerere University Vice Chancellor". Daily Monitor (Kampala). Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  3. ^ Tuhereze, Elias (15 September 2017). "New Makerere University Vice Chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe Installed". Ms Jane Anyango, Communication Officer and Ms Ritah Namisango, SPRO. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  4. ^ Mukhaye, Damali (1 January 2018). "Makerere probe discovers 16,000 ghost students". Daily Monitor. Kampala. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  5. ^ Wandera, Derrick (6 April 2018). "Makerere enrolment reduces by 15,000". Daily Monitor. Kampala. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  6. ^ Peter Roach, Jane Setter, John Esling, eds., Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary (Cambridge University Press, 2011; ISBN 0521765757), p. 302.
  7. ^ a b BBC News (20 September 2022). "Uganda Makerere University fire: 'Ivory Tower' gutted". British Broadcasting Company. London, United Kingdom. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  8. ^ Juliette Namakula (3 June 2020). "Full List: Makerere University now ranked eighth best in Africa". Education News Uganda. Kapala, Uganda. Retrieved 30 April 2022.
  9. ^ "Best Global Universities in Africa". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  10. ^ "Best Global Universities in Africa". US News Education. Retrieved 1 August 2023.
  11. ^ State House of Uganda. "Past Presidents of Uganda". State House of Uganda. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  12. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica (29 May 2021). "Julius Nyerere president of Tanzania". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  13. ^ a b "Statement: Makerere Visitation Committee lists responsibilities". Uganda Journalists' Resource Centre, The African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME). 22 November 2016. Archived from the original on 2 December 2016.
  14. ^ "Makerere reopens to empty lecture rooms". New Vision. 2 January 2017. Archived from the original on 3 January 2017.
  15. ^ a b c d Uganda. Public Service Review and Re-organization Commission (1990). Public Service Review and Reorganisation Commission, 1989-1990, Volume 1. Kampala, Uganda: Uganda. Ministry of Public Service and Cabinet Affairs. p. 272. OCLC 32432462.
  16. ^ a b "Annotated History of Makerere University 1922–2012". 90 Years of Makerere University. Makerere University. Archived from the original on 11 September 2014.
  17. ^ A. J. Hughes (1969). "Buganda Troubles in the 1940s". East Africa (Revised ed.). Pengiun Books. p. 157.
  18. ^ Byaruhanga, Frederick K. (2013). Student Power in Africa's Higher Education: A Case of Makerere University (second ed.). New York: Taylor & Francis (Routledge). p. 20. ISBN 978-1-135-51448-8., originally published in 2006, ISBN 978-0-415-97746-3
  19. ^ A. J. Hughes (1969). "Buganda Troubles in the 1940s". East Africa (Revised ed.). Pengiun Books. p. 158.
  20. ^ a b c Barungi. Andrew (21 November 2016). "Makerere University is closed. Now what?". Uganda Journalists' Resource Centre, The African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME). Archived from the original on 2 December 2016.
  21. ^ Tusiime, Christopher (30 November 2016). "Non-teaching staff in public universities to go on strike". Campus Bee. Makerere University. Archived from the original on 2 December 2016.
  22. ^ "Uganda Makerere University fire: 'Ivory Tower' gutted". BBC News. 2020-09-20. Retrieved 2020-09-21.
  23. ^ Daily Monitor (14 August 2020). "Nawangwe on the spot as MPs resurrect Shs16.7b NIC scandal". Nation Media Group. Daily Monitor. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  24. ^ MSOBOR, CHEMONGES TIMOTHY. "MPs demand investigations over the loss UGX 8 billion on Makerere University-NIC saga". Parliament Watch. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  25. ^ "Home". Makerere University 100th Anniversary. Retrieved 2023-03-26.
  26. ^ "Makerere at 100: What needs to change ?". Monitor. 2022-05-29. Retrieved 2023-03-26.
  27. ^ Independent, The (2022-10-07). "Makerere University celebrates 100 years with calls to focus on science, research". The Independent Uganda. Retrieved 2023-03-26.
  28. ^ a b "Center for World University Rankings 2020-2021". Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  29. ^ a b "CWTS Leiden Ranking 2020". Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  30. ^ "QS World University Rankings 2021". Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  31. ^ a b "World University Rankings". 25 August 2020. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  32. ^ U.S. News. "Best Global Universities in Uganda". Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  33. ^ "Best universities in Africa - 2021". Times Higher Education World University Rankings. 1 October 2020. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  34. ^ U.S. News. "2021 Best Global Universities in Africa". Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  35. ^ "Makerere University Governance: Appointments Board". Archived from the original on 13 November 2010. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  36. ^ "Finance, Planning and Administration". Archived from the original on 15 November 2010. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  37. ^ "Quality Assurance, Gender and ICT Sub Committee". Archived from the original on 23 December 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  38. ^ "Estates and Works". Retrieved 13 September 2012.[dead link]
  39. ^ "Staff Development, Welfare and Retirement Benefits". Archived from the original on 22 December 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  40. ^ "Students Affairs and Disciplinary Sub Committee". Archived from the original on 23 December 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  41. ^ "Honorary Awards Sub Committee". Archived from the original on 22 December 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  42. ^ "Audit Sub Committee". Archived from the original on 23 December 2012. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  43. ^ "New Makerere University Vice Chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe Installed". Makerere University News Portal. 2017-09-15. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  44. ^ "Nawangwe elected Makerere Vice Chancellor". Daily Monitor. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  45. ^ "Celebrating Ngugi wa Thiong'o at 70". African-Writing Retrieved 15 January 2012.
  46. ^ Philimon Badagawa (18 September 2017). "Prof. William Bazeyo takes over as Makerere university Deputy Vice Chancellor". Kampala: Campus Times Uganda. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  47. ^ "Special Sitting of the Supreme Court of Belize". Press Office of the Government of Belize. 28 March 2001. Archived from the original on 16 July 2012. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
  48. ^ Ainebyoona, Emmanuel (15 February 2015). "Makerere Gets Mwai Kibaki Presidential Library". Daily Monitor (Kampala). Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  49. ^ Kyemba, Henry. A State of Blood, p. 21
  50. ^ "Looking back on Jehoash Mayanja Nkangi's illustrious career". NTV Uganda. 7 March 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-04-10. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  51. ^ Maurice Muhwezi (25 March 2022). "Breaking: NRM's Anita Among Wins Speakership Race". Red Pepper. Mukono, Uganda. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
  52. ^ Business Daily Africa (2017). "Top 40 Women Under 40 in Kenya" (PDF). Nairobi: Nation Media Group. Retrieved 11 November 2017. {{cite web}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  53. ^ Grace Kenganzi, and Rose Rukundo (20 February 2014). "The stories behind Makerere University halls of residence". Daily Monitor. Kampala. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
  54. ^ Haywood, Katherine (5 January 2010). "Makerere VC Rolls Out 2010 Plan for Varsity". Daily Monitor (Kampala). Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  55. ^ Benson Tumusiime and Patience Ahimbisibwe (23 April 2021). "Inside Makerere University fire report". Daily Monitor. Kampala, Uganda. Retrieved 30 April 2022.
  56. ^ The Independent (31 August 2021). "Makerere University main building to be demolished". The Independent Uganda. Kampala, Uganda. Retrieved 30 April 2022.
  57. ^ Jane Nafula (30 April 2022). "Makerere knocks down its iconic Main Building". Daily Monitor. Kampala, Uganda. Retrieved 30 April 2022.

External links[edit]