University of Nairobi

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University of Nairobi
Uon emblem.gif
MottoLatin: Unitate et Labore
In Unity and Work
Established1956 Royal Technical College
1961 Royal College Nairobi
1964 University College Nairobi
1970 University of Nairobi
ChancellorDr. Vijoo Rattansi
Vice-ChancellorProfessor Stephen Kiama (Effective Jan 6 2020)
1°16′47″S 36°49′00″E / 1.27972°S 36.81667°E / -1.27972; 36.81667Coordinates: 1°16′47″S 36°49′00″E / 1.27972°S 36.81667°E / -1.27972; 36.81667

The University of Nairobi (UoN)[1] is a collegiate research university based in Nairobi. It is the largest among universities in Kenya.[2] Although its history as an educational institution dates back to 1956, it did not become an independent university until 1970. In this year, the University of East Africa was split into three independent universities: Makerere University in Uganda, the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, and the University of Nairobi in Kenya.

During the 2011 academic year, the university had 61,912 students, of whom 49,488 were undergraduates and 12,424 postgraduates.[3] The university launched several policy frameworks and introduced self-funded enrollment (also called 'module 2') to cope with the rising demand for higher education in Kenya.[4]


The inception of the University of Nairobi dates from 1956, with the establishment of the Royal Technical College, which admitted its first group of A-level graduates for technical courses in April the same year. The Royal Technical College was transformed into the second university college in East Africa on 25 June 1961 by the Scottish mathematician Prof James Morton Hyslop[5] formerly of the University of Witwatersrand under the name Royal College of Nairobi[6] and was admitted into a special relation with the University of London whereupon it began preparing students in the faculties of Arts, Science and Engineering for award degrees of the University of London. Meanwhile, students in other faculties such as the Faculty of Special Professional Studies (later renamed Faculty of Commerce) and Faculty of Architecture continued to offer diplomas for qualifications of professional bodies/institutions.

On 20 May 1964, the Royal College Nairobi was renamed University College Nairobi as a constituent college of inter-territorial, Federal University of East Africa, and henceforth the enrolled students were to study for college degrees of the University of East Africa and not London as was the case before. In 1970, it transformed into the first national university in Kenya and was renamed the University of Nairobi. The university tops in Kenya's university ranking and is ranked 7th in Africa and 1698 in the world according to Webometrics Ranking of World Universities.[citation needed]


Former offices
View from main entrance
View from main quadrangle

The idea of an institution for higher learning in Kenya goes back to 1947 when the Kenya government drew up a plan for the establishment of a technical and commercial institute in Nairobi. By 1949, this plan had grown into a concept aimed at providing higher technical education for Kenya. In September 1951, a Royal Charter was issued to the Royal Technical College, Nairobi and the foundation stone of the college was laid in April 1952.

During the same period, the Asian Community of Kenya was also planning to build a college for Arts, Science and Commerce as a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. To avoid duplication of efforts, Gandhi Memorial Academy Society partnered Kenyan Governments. Thus, the Gandhi Memorial Academy was incorporated into the Royal Technical College, Nairobi in April 1954, and the college proceeded to open its doors to the first intake of students in April 1956.[citation needed]

Soon after the arrival of students at the college, the pattern of higher education in Kenya came under scrutiny. Through the recommendation of a working party formed in 1958, chaired by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of London, Sir John Lockwood, the Royal Technical College, Nairobi was transformed. On 25 June 1961, the college became the second university college in East Africa, under the name "Royal College Nairobi."

The Royal College Nairobi was renamed "University College, Nairobi" on 20 May 1964. On the attainment of "University College" status, the institution prepared students for bachelor's degrees awarded by the University of London, while also continuing to offer college diploma programmes. The University College Nairobi provided educational opportunities in this capacity until 1966 when it began preparing students exclusively for degrees of the University of East Africa, with the exception of the Department of Domestic Science. With effect from 1 July 1970, the University of East Africa was dissolved and the three African countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania each had its own national universities. This development saw the birth of the University of Nairobi set up by an Act of Parliament.

Since 1970, the university had grown from a faculty based university serving a student population of 2,768 to a college focused university serving over 68,000 students.[7]


It is[8] a body corporate established under the Universities Act 2012 of the Laws of Kenya and the Charter.

Through module II and III programmes, opportunity has been opened to thousands of Kenyans and foreigners especially from Sudan, on a paying basis, who meet university admission requirements, but who have not been able to access university education due to restricted intake into the regular programmes that is determined by limited resource allocation by Government. In addition to the regular and evening and weekend programmes, classes are conducted at the University's Extra-Mural Centres located at the country's county headquarters.

The university is admitting students to undertake courses in the proposed Koitalel Arap Samoei University College for law, business management and education courses that began in January 2015. This is a joint project of the County Government of Nandi and the University of Nairobi


The university underwent a major restructuring in 1983, resulting in a decentralisation of the administration, by the creation of six colleges headed by principals. Further, in 2021, the university was further restructured to faculties headed by Executive Deans,[9] phasing out the colleges.


  • Veterinary Medicine[10]
  • Social Sciences[11]
  • Science and Technology[12]
  • Law[13]
  • Agriculture[14]
  • Business and Management Science[15]
  • Education[16]
  • Arts[17]
  • Engineering[18]
  • Built Environment and Design[19]
  • Health Sciences[20]


  • Agricultural Economics[21]
  • Food Science, Nutrition And Technology[22]
  • Land Resource Management And Agricultural Technology[23]
  • Plant Science & Crop Protection[24]
  • Linguistics, Languages and Literature[25]
  • History and Archeology[26]
  • Philosophy and Religious Studies[27]
  • Library and Information[28]
  • Art and Design[29]
  • Architecture[30]
  • Real Estate, Construction Management and Quantity Surveying[31]
  • Urban and Regional Planning[32]
  • Business Administration[33]
  • Finance & Accounting[34]
  • Management Science and Project Planning[35]
  • Educational Management, Policy and Curriculum Studies[36]
  • Educational Foundations[37]
  • Educational Communication And Pedagogical Studies[38]
  • Educational and Distance Studies[39]
  • Physical Education And Sport[40]
  • Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering[41]
  • Civil and Construction Engineering[42]
  • Electrical and Information Engineering[43]
  • Environmental and Biosystems Engineering[44]
  • Geospatial and Space Technology[45]
  • Dental Sciences[46]
  • Nursing Sciences[47]
  • Public and Global Health[48]
  • Surgery[49]
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology[50]
  • Clinical Medicine and Therapeutics[51]
  • Paediatrics and Child Health[52]
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology[53]
  • Human Pathology[54]
  • Psychiatry[55]
  • Diagnostic Imaging and Radiation Medicine[56]
  • Medical Microbiology and Immunology[57]
  • Pharmacy[58]
  • Chemistry[59]
  • Computing and Informatics[60]
  • Mathematics[61]
  • Physics[62]
  • Biology[63]
  • Earth and Climate Sciences[64]
  • Biochemistry[65]
  • Anthropology, Gender and African Studies[66]
  • Economics, Population and Development Studies[67]
  • Sociology, Social Work and African Women Studies[68]
  • Political Science, Diplomacy and Public Administration[69]
  • Journalism and Mass Communication[70]
  • Public Health, Pharmacology and Toxicology[71]
  • Veterinary Anatomy and Physiology[72]
  • Animal Production[73]
  • Clinical Studies[74]
  • Veterinary Pathology, Microbiology and Parasitology[75]


University rankings
Global – Overall
THE World[76]801-1000 (2018)

In 2017, Times Higher Education ranked the university within the 801–1000 band globally.[76]

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Latest News | UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI". Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  2. ^ "Commission for University Education - Status Of Universities (Universities Authorized to Operate in Kenya) - Status Of Universities (Universities Authorized to Operate in Kenya)". Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  3. ^ Ngala, John. "The rot that is Nairobi University halls of residence". Standard Digital News. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  4. ^ "Annual Report" (PDF). University of Nairobi. 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  5. ^ "Browsing Vice-chancellors by Author "Hyslop, James, Morton"".
  6. ^ Royal College of Nairobi
  7. ^ "Nairobi University eyes Sh500m fund to sponsor high potential". Daily Nation. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  8. ^ "Latest News - UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI".
  9. ^ "Governance Reforms: VC presents a new Governance Structure for UoN on 14th July 2021 | Office of the Vice-Chancellor | University of Nairobi".
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  76. ^ a b World University Rankings 2017-2018

External links[edit]