National University of Lesotho

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National University of Lesotho
National University of Lesotho Administration Block.jpg
Former names
Pius XII Catholic University College, University of Basutoland, Bechuanaland Protectorate and Swaziland, University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland[1]
Motto 'Nete ke Thebe (Truth is a Shield)
Type Public
Established 1945
President Chancellor King Letsie III[2]
Students 2,013[3]
Location Roma, Lesotho
Campus 198 acres (80 hectares)[4]

The National University of Lesotho is in Roma, some 34 kilometers southeast of Maseru, the capital of Lesotho. The Roma valley is broad and is surrounded by a barrier of rugged mountains which provides magnificent scenery. The university enjoys a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. The governing body of the University is the Council and academic policy is in the hands of Senate, both Council and Senate being established by the Act.[1]


Faculties and departments:[5]

  • Agriculture
  • Education
  • Health Sciences
  • Humanities
  • Law
  • Science & Technology
  • Social Sciences



Pius XII Catholic University College[edit]

View to the National University of Lesotho

The origins of the National University of Lesotho (NUL)[6] date to April 8, 1945, when a Catholic University College was founded at Roma by the Roman Catholic Hierarchy of Southern Africa. The establishment of this college was a realisation of a decision taken in 1938 by the Synod of Catholic Bishops in South Africa to provide African Catholic students with post-matriculation and religious guidance. The Catholic University College was founded in an isolated valley 34 kilometers from Maseru in a temporary primary school building at Roma Mission.[1]

In 1946, the college moved from the temporary building to the present site. This was made possible by the allocation of some 52 acres (210,000 m²) of land to the college by the paramount chief.

In 1950, the Catholic University College was ceded to the Congregation of Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Pius XII College prepared its students for the external degrees of the University of South Africa (UNISA). By September 27, 1954, having satisfied itself that Pius XII College was an academically viable institution, UNISA agreed to enter into a formal agreement — thereby granting "Associate College" status. This development was of major significance to the Roma intellectual community as it entailed a degree of "decentralisation" in specific areas on the part of UNISA, e.g., Pius Xil College assumed greater responsibility for tuition and examinations. Indeed, between 1954 and 1960 the academic and physical growth of the college accelerated. Fathers Beaule, Quirion, and Guilbeault (then rector) participated actively in its early development.

In the early 60s the college experienced academic and financial difficulties. UNISA unilaterally decided to redefine its relationship with the college and, finally, the main benefactor directed its resources elsewhere.

The denominational character of the Catholic University College made it difficult for international organizations, agencies, and foundations to fund such an institution of higher learning. Despite these problems, advice received from John Lockwood and James Cook, both vice-chancellors of British universities, discouraged the college authorities from seeking an affiliation with either the University of London or any other overseas university. As early as 1952, attempts by the college to secure a special relationship with the University of London, through the Inter-University Council for Higher Education Overseas (commonly referred to as the I-VC) had been unsuccessful.

In view of the prevailing difficulties, seen as a danger to the development of university education in Basutoland in 1962, the general of the Oblate Congregation requested Fathers Banim, 0.M.I. and A. W. Hall, O.M.I. to visit Roma and assist the college in finding a practical solution to its problems.

The South African government had declared its intention not to admit African students from outside South Africa into the University of Fort Hare and the Natal Medical School (Wentworth) after December 31, 1953. Although this ban was relaxed for Basutoland students until 1958, the writing was on the wall.

The college, which by 1959 had 171 students, 141 of whom were students from outside Basutoland — mainly from South Africa, Northern and Southern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland — was deeply involved in contributing to the training of future civil servants and teachers for the Bechuanaland Protectorate and Swaziland. Clearly, the High Commission Territories (H.C.T.) were indebted to Pius XII College for its role in producing a cadre of educated women and men to tackle developmental problems after independence. On the other hand, the college, which was going through a period of financial difficulties, felt that it would be most appreciative if its efforts in providing the prerequisite manpower needs for the H.C.T. could be recognized both in cash and in kind. At the same time, it was apparent that the H.C.T. wanted to play a more significant role in the decision-making bodies of the Catholic University College. In a curious way, the Catholic Church, the Basutoland government, the university authorities and even other High Commission Territories sensed the need for a decisive step to be taken to the re-define the role and the governance of the college.

Negotiations began with the view to establishing an inter-territorial, non-denominational university, principally to serve the H.C.T. It has been said that by that time the three High Commission Territories were beginning to see the college as destined to become a "University of the High Commission Territories". Progress was made to enable a deed of cession to be signed on June 13, 1963, the indemnity being met jointly by the Ford Foundation and H.M.'s government in the UK. The indemnity was signed between Hugh Stephenson, then newly appointed high commissioner acting on behalf of the projected new university. At the time of signing the indemnity the facilities of the college, most of which were attributed to the period when Fr. Romeo Guilbeaut was Rector, had expanded rapidly. Besides the original "temporary" houses and classrooms, residences which could accommodate 100 male and 70 female students, some 20 staff houses/flats, a modem science block, a kitchen and refectory block, administrative buildings, workshops, garage and a power plant were in existence. Under construction was a new library building whose funding had been secured form the World Council of Churches and the World University Service. Student numbers had grown from the original five to 180.

University of Basutoland, Bechuanaland Protectorate and Swaziland[edit]

On January 1, 1964, Plus XII University College was replaced by the independent, non-denominational University of Basutoland, Bechuanaland Protectorate, and Swaziland with its own charter granted by Queen Elizabeth II. By virtue of the same charter, the Oblate Fathers kept a close relationship with the U.B.B.S. through serving on the Council and teaching, as well as in the physical presence of Pius XII College House, a residence for the Oblate community.[1]

University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland[edit]

To be in line with the names chosen after independence in 1966, U.B.B.S. became the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland.[1]

A historical date in the life of U.B.L.S. is April 7, 1967, when the first autonomous degrees and diplomas were conferred. The university continued to grow steadily, physically and academically, being supported by the three governments' subventions and by international organisations. In time, branches were established in Botswana and Swaziland.

U.B.L.S., though much admired as an institution, soon found problems in the areas of growth and administration. Cooperation between the three campuses was not always consistent and equal, as interests and concerns about development and future plans differed between the three campuses.

By 1974, ten years after its establishment, the U.B.L.S. was offering five degree courses, eleven diploma and certificate courses and four postgraduate degree courses.

National University of Lesotho[edit]

The decision to establish the National University of Lesotho on the Lesotho (Roma) campus site of the former U.B.L.S. was taken on October 20, 1975, by the National Assembly through Act No. 13 of 1975. NUL is the proud heir of Pius XII University College and U.B.L.S. It occupies the same site, grounds, and buildings as its predecessors, as well as additional ones.[1]

Over the years new faculties and departments have been established, particularly with the help of the EU. The Dutch for example have been key to establishing the Education faculty at the university.[citation needed]

Academic performance[edit]

In June 2011, the Lesotho Times reported that half of the students in three of the seven faculties at the University failed their examinations.[7] This "unprecedented failure rate" was in the law, health sciences and science and technology faculties.


The National University of Lesotho supports open access in Lesotho and has signed the Budapest Open Access Initiative. In 2011, the National University of Lesotho has established the first institutional repository in the country. The National University of Lesotho Institutional Repository (NULIR) is the institutional repository and provides access to the research output of staff and students.[8]

Notable alumni[edit]

See also Category:National University of Lesotho alumni

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f National University of Lesotho. History Verified 2010-09-15.
  2. ^ National University of Lesotho. Officers of the University Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  3. ^ Southern African Regional Universities Association. National University of Lesotho Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  4. ^ National University of Lesotho. History Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  5. ^ National University of Lesotho Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Motsoeli, Ntsebeng (23 June 2011). "Half of NUL students fail". The Lesotho Times. 
  8. ^ "Lesotho - Global Open Access Portal". UNESCO. Retrieved 2017-05-06. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 29°27′02″S 27°43′23″E / 29.45056°S 27.72306°E / -29.45056; 27.72306