University of Zimbabwe

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University of Zimbabwe
University of Zimbabwe LOGO.png
Former names
University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, University College of Rhodesia, University of Rhodesia, University of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia
MottoKnowledge, Diligence, Integrity
ChancellorPresident of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa
per act of parliament[1]
Vice-ChancellorPaul Mapfumo
Academic staff
140 professors,[2] 545 lecturers, 155 teaching and research assistants (2018)[3]
Location, ,

The University of Zimbabwe (UZ) in Harare, is the oldest and top ranked university in Zimbabwe.[4] It was founded through a special relationship with the University of London and it opened its doors to its first students in 1952. The university has nine faculties and 1 College ( Faculties of Agriculture, Arts, Commerce, Education, Engineering, Law, Science, Social Studies, Veterinary Sciences and the College of Health Sciences) offering a wide variety of degree programmes and many specialist research centres and institutes. The university is accredited through the National Council for Higher Education, under the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education. English is the language of instruction. Although once a very successful university, UZ has been facing challenges since 2008 and now the University is on a rebounding drive. Major work is being done to uplift the status of the University. Refurbishments are being carried out on the Main campus and many facilities are being upgraded to make the university an International Academic Brand. The university has faced criticism for awarding fraudulent degrees to members of the Mugabe regime particularly the obscure PhD given to Grace Mugabe.[5][6][7][8]


Early years[edit]

Council room of the University of Zimbabwe. Portraits of former Vice-Chancellors from left to right: Robert Craig, Leonard Lewis, Walter Kamba and Gordon Chavunduka.

In 1945, Manfred Hodson (after whom a residence is now named) formed the Rhodesia University Association, inspired by the promise of £20,000 by Robert Jeffrey Freeman for establishing such a university. [9] The following year, the Legislative Assembly of Southern Rhodesia adopted a motion proposed by Hodson for the establishment of a university college to serve the needs of Rhodesia and neighbouring territories. The Governor of Southern Rhodesia established the Rhodesia University Foundation Fund in 1947. The Legislative Assembly accepted an offer of land in Mount Pleasant from the City of Salisbury (now Harare) for the construction of the campus in 1948. Four years later a bill was enacted for the incorporation and constitution of the university. First classes began for some 68 students on a temporary site at 147 Baker Avenue (now Nelson Mandela Avenue).[4] Independent of the initiatives of Hodson and the Legislative Assembly, the Central African Council's commission on higher education, led by Sir Alexander Carr-Saunders (after whom another residence is now named) recommended the establishment of a university college to serve Rhodesia and Nyasaland, with its first preference being to integrate with the Southern Rhodesian initiative.[9]


Construction began on the Mount Pleasant site, funded by grants from the British and Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland Governments, Anglo American Corporation, the British South Africa Company, the Rhodesia Selection Trust, the Beit Trust, the Ford Foundation and the Dulverton Trust and in July 1953 Elizabeth, the Queen Mother laid the foundation stone. In 1955 the British government formally adopted the institution, establishing the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (UCRN) by Royal Charter. The college was admitted to the privilege of Special Relation with the University of London the following year and in 1957 all activities were transferred to the Mount Pleasant campus. The following year the college was granted pieces of land upon which the college farm and the Lake Kariba Research Station were constructed.[9] In 1963 the Medical School opened and was affiliated to the University of Birmingham. After the dissolution of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, the University College continued as an independent institution of higher education and research, open to all races.[4] In 1970 a phased termination of the associations with the Universities of London and Birmingham began.

Post independence[edit]

Following Zimbabwe's independence after the Rhodesian Bush War, the university was renamed University of Zimbabwe in 1980. In 1981, the first black Principal, Walter Kamba, was appointed[3][10] and in 1982 the Royal Charter was replaced by an Act of Parliament.[1] Student numbers rose from 1,000 in 1980 to 2,000 by 1985.[11]

The University of Zimbabwe Act was controversially amended in 1990, giving the government more powers and, according to many faculty, students and observers, attacking academic freedom.[12][13] The late 1980s and most of the 1990s saw a rise in student protest,[14][15][16] resulting in several closures[17] and mass expulsions.[18] Despite the ongoing tensions, the university continued to grow and the student population had reached 8,000 by 1995[11] and 10,139 by 2001.[4] As the 2000s began, the university struggled to meet lecturers' and professors' expectations on salary levels, leading to numerous strikes.[19] Many donors, including the Government of Sweden, which had previously been a major financer of UZ, cut or cancelled their aid.[20] As the economic crisis grew in Zimbabwe, UZ began to fail to recruit lecturers and professors to fill vacancies.[21] By 2007, the shortage of staff was preventing the teaching and examination of some programmes.[22] Problems with water and electricity supply, as well as maintenance of infrastructure became critical by the late 2000s.[22] The decline of UZ culminated in the university's failure to re-open for the 2008–2009 academic year.[23] The University briefly opened in early 2009, but no classes were held due to strike action by lecturers.[24] The institution was closed again in late February, following demonstrations by students against new, hard currency fees.[25]

Controversy over fraudulent degrees[edit]

The university has faced criticism for awarding fraudulent degrees to members of the Mugabe regime; in 2014, Grace Mugabe was given a doctorate in sociology, only two months after being registered on the programme, and although a dissertion does not exist in the university archives. Also other senior members of the Mugabe regime were given doctorates, without writing dissertations.[5][6][7][8][26][27] On 20 November 2017, the university of Zimbabwe students boycotted writing exams citing that the former first lady Dr Grace Mugabe's controversial PhD should be revoked. They also protested and declared that they would not write examinations until Robert Mugabe resigned. Inevitably, the 93 year old leader and then chancellor of the University resigned the following afternoon on 21 November 2017 as head of state and government. Many claimed that the University of Zimbabwe's students will go down in history as those who gave the Mugabe regime the 'final push' of his 37 year reigned as Zimbabwe's leader[citation needed].



Undergraduate geology field school in Mazowe District, Bachelor of Science programme, University of Zimbabwe.

The basic format of undergraduate learning at UZ is lectures, by professors or lecturers and tutorials by lecturers of teaching assistants. Many programmes also have laboratory-based practical work and field schools. Tests and assignments on course content are graded for a theory coursework grade. Practical work, where applicable, is graded for a practical coursework grade. Theory, and in some cases practical, examinations are administered.

The degree programmes follow the Course Unit model, and in many programmes it is possible for students to select some of the courses from a range of options. Honours degrees have a compulsory project course that the students must complete individually, with different projects carried out by each student.[28]

The undergraduate programmes offered lead to Bachelor, Bachelor (Honours) and Intercalated bachelor's degrees. Registered bachelor's degree programmes are in arts, business studies and computer science, tourism and hospitality management, education, adult education, science education, nursing science, science, social work, dental surgery, medicine and surgery and veterinary science. Registered undergraduate Bachelor (Honours) programmes are in agriculture, agricultural engineering, applied environmental science, arts, accountancy, business studies, law, engineering, mining engineering, surveying, medical laboratory sciences, nursing science, pharmacy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, science, economics, politics and administration, psychology, rural and urban planning, and sociology. Registered intercalated programmes are in anatomy, human physiology, veterinary anatomy, veterinary physiology and veterinary biochemistry.[29]


Postgraduate water resources students in the Faculty of Engineering, University of Zimbabwe, with their professors and lecturers.

The University of Zimbabwe offers postgraduate honours degrees, two types of master's degree and doctoral degrees. Postgraduate honours programmes, also known as special honours programmes last are for one-year duration and incorporate coursework, examinations and a compulsory project module. Master's degrees by coursework and project are designated M.A. or M.Sc. and are of one to two years duration. They incorporate coursework and project modules. Master's degrees by research thesis only are designated M.Phil. and require a minimum of two years study. The doctoral programme, D.Phil., is by research thesis only. Students who are carrying out an M.Phil. study, but have not yet submitted their thesis, may apply to their faculty to upgrade their study to the D.Phil. programme.[30]

Suspension of programmes[edit]

Due to the heavy staff vacancies that UZ began suffering from in the 2000s, many programmes and specialisations have been suspended.[22]


Although UZ has not generally featured in major international rankings such as the Times Higher Education Supplement QS World University Rankings or the Academic Ranking of World Universities, the World Universities Ranking placed the university number 14 in Africa in 2007, after various South African universities, the American University in Cairo and the University of Dar-es-Salaam, and number 3,549 out of 9,760 accredited universities in the world.[31] By 2008, UZ had slid to number 17 in Africa and number 4,001 globally.[32] In 2010, according to University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP),[33] University of Zimbabwe is the best university in Zimbabwe and 1340th university in the world.


Social gathering on the edge of the College Green, University of Zimbabwe

The main campus of the University of Zimbabwe is located in the Mount Pleasant suburb in northern Harare. It forms the main portion of the block of land reserved for educational purposes between Mount Pleasant Drive, Upper East Road, Churchill Avenue and Teviotdale Road. Other facilities within this area include the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council, the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture Audio-Visual Centre and Mount Pleasant School.[34] In addition to the academic buildings, the main campus is host to sporting facilities, all but two student residences and much of the staff housing. The College Green, located centrally to the academic buildings, is a popular site for social events. About one third of the campus is a seasonal wetland, unsuitable for construction and thus unused.[35]

The major satellite campus is the Medical School campus at Parirenyatwa Hospital in central Harare.[34] It houses the College of Health Sciences. Additional university properties within Harare include blocks of flats for staff and student housing in Avondale, the Avenues and Mount Pleasant.

The university also owns a farm in Teviotdale, Mazowe District, north of Harare[36] and the University of Zimbabwe Lake Kariba Research Station in the Nyamhunga suburb of Kariba.[37] Several of Zimbabwe's universities started as colleges and satellite campuses of UZ, including Bindura University of Science Education and Chinhoyi University of Technology.

Administration and organisation[edit]

Central governance[edit]

The titular head of the university is the Chancellor, who is the President of Zimbabwe. The university is governed by a University Council, comprising the university's chief officers, representatives of the Senate, staff and students, nominees of the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education and representatives form various sectors of commerce and civil society. The chief executive of the university is the Vice-Chancellor, who is appointed by the Chancellor after consultation with the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education and the University Council. The Vice-Chancellor is assisted by one or more Pro–Vice-Chancellors, appointed by the University Council with the approval of the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education.[1]

The academic authority of the university is vested in the Senate, comprising the university's chief officers, the deans of faculties, all full professors, the chairmen of departments and staff and student representatives. The university is divided into faculties, managed by an executive dean and governed by a Faculty Board comprising all professors and lecturers.[1]


There are ten academic faculties:

Faculty Departments Institutes Centres
Agriculture Agricultural Economics and Extension
Animal Science
Crop Science
Soil Science and Agricultural Engineering
Arts African languages and Literature
Economic History
Modern Languages
Religious Studies, Classics and Philosophy
Theatre arts
African languages research institute
Confucius Institute
Communication Skills Centre
Centre for Defence Studies
College of Health Sciences Medical Laboratory Sciences

Community Medicine
Chemical Pathology
Clinical Pharmacology
Medical Microbilogy
Obstretics & Gynaecology
School of Pharmacy

Institute of Continuing Health Education
Commerce Accountancy
Business Studies

Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Studies
Graduate School of Management

Education Adult Education
Curriculum and Arts Education

Educational Administration
Educational Foundations
Science and Mathematics Education
Teacher Education
Technical Education

Human Resources Research Centre
Engineering Civil Engineering
Electrical Engineering
Geoinformatics and Surveying
Mechanical Engineering
Mining Engineering
Centre for Continuing Engineering Education
Law Constitutional law
Private law
Procedural law
Public law
Commercial law Institute
Women's Law Institute of Southern Africa
Science Biological Sciences
Computer Science
Food, Nutrition and Family Sciences

Electronics and Telecommunication Technology
Geography and Environmental Science

Institute of Mining Research Mineral Resources Centre
Social Studies Economics
Political and Administrative Studies
Rural and Urban Planning
Centre for Applied Social Studies
Centre for Population Studies
Veterinary Science Preclinical Veterinary Science
Clinical Veterinary Science
Paraclinical Veterinary Science


The university currently has one college, the College of Health Sciences which incorporates the Faculty of Medicine. However, many of Zimbabwe's public universities started as colleges of the University of Zimbabwe:

Former college of the University of Zimbabwe Current University
Bindura University College for Science Education Bindura University of Science Education
Chinhoyi University College Chinhoyi University of Technology
University College of Distance Education[38] Zimbabwe Open University
Faculty of Engineering graduation ceremony, University of Zimbabwe, August 2005.

Trans-disciplinary institutes[edit]

The university has two trans-disciplinary research institutes: the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and the Institute of Environmental Studies (IES).

Affiliated institutions[edit]

There are numerous education institutions affiliated to the University of Zimbabwe, including teacher training colleges[1] and the School of Social Work.

Academic year[edit]

The academic year runs from August to June, with graduation normally in September. As from February 2016, the University introduced a second intake,with an academic year that runs from February to December.

Student life[edit]

Benjani Mwaruwari played football at the University of Zimbabwe.


On the main campus there are five residences for women: Swinton Hall, Complexes 1, 4 and 5 and Carr-Saunders, and four residences for men: Manfred Hodson Hall, Complex 2, Complex 3 and Manfred Hodson Annex (formerly New Hall). There is also the Medical Residence at the Medical School campus and Mount Royal Residence in the Avenues, in central Harare. The residences were closed in June 2007, with the university authorities citing maintenance and sanitation problems but were reopened in 2014.[22]

Sports, clubs and traditions[edit]

The university has a target of at least one current or former UZ student representing the country in a medal winning sports team in international competitions annually.[39] Sport at UZ is centred around the Sports Pavilion, which was donated by National Breweries.[9] Sports offered at the university include athletics, basketball, cricket, football, hockey, rugby and tennis. UZ has frequently won the Zimbabwe Universities Sports Association Games.[40] In its early years, men's hockey was the premier sport, with a team in Salisbury's "First League" in 1960[41] The University of Zimbabwe Football Club plays in Zimbabwe's Division two and is the former home of Manchester City striker and Zimbabwe national football team captain, Benjani Mwaruwari.[42] The club was for a time coached by former President Canaan Banana.[43] When Zimbabwe hosted the All-Africa Games in 1995, UZ was the games village.[44] Maintenance of sporting facilities is the responsibility of the Director: Sport, but in recent years accessing funds from the State Procurement Board has been a challenge.[39] Other popular and successful sporting disciplines at UZ are Basketball, Vollyeball, Rugby and Handball whom are all playing in the Harare professional leagues. In October 2015, the Sports Department organised a Handball festival in celebration of the University's 6oth anniversary and this festival has become an annual event ever since and the biggest handball festival in the country.

In most departments there are subject–related clubs or societies, for example the Kirk Biological Society[45] and the AIESEC and Students Institution for Success Club.[46] In 2005, UZ won the Students in Free Enterprise World Cup held in Ontario, Canada. There are also non–academic clubs such as Rotaract[47]

Gender issues[edit]

The gender gap in enrollment at UZ, like at African universities,[48] became a concern by the mid-1990s and in 1995 an affirmative action programme was built into the university's policy.[49] However, many female students feel inhibited from taking male-dominated courses or taking part in student politics. Women are intimidated by gender–related violence[48] and sexual exploitation.[50]

University of Zimbabwe people[edit]

Vice–Chancellors and principals and leadership in the SRC post 2001[edit]

The first chief executive of the university was William Rollo, who served as interim principal from 1953 to 1955.[9] The first substantive Principal was Sir Walter Adams who served from 1955 to 1966 and was later Director of the London School of Economics. Sir Walter was succeeded by Professor Terence Miller, who lasted a mere two years as his political views brought him into conflict with the government.[51] His successor, Robert Craig, later Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, served from 1969 to 1980.[52] Professor Leonard J Lewis served as Principal for the transition to Zimbabwe's independence, despite his somewhat controversial views on African education and politics.[53] He was succeeded in 1981 by Professor Walter G Kamba, who became Vice–Chancellor when that post was created to replace that of Principal.[1] Like Prof Miller, Prof Kamba came into conflict with the government and he resigned in a controversial speech at the 1992 graduation ceremony, citing government interference and threats to academic freedom.[54] He was succeeded by Professor Gordon L Chavunduka (1992–1996), who was followed by Professor FW Graham Hill (1997–2002). The incumbent Vice–Chancellor, Professor Levi M Nyagura has served since 2003.[55]

Notable faculty[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]


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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 17°47′02″S 31°03′11″E / 17.784°S 31.053°E / -17.784; 31.053