The University of Ibadan was established in 1948 as a University College in their old site at Eleyele but later moved to its permanent site that occupies 2,550 acres of land. The land was leased generously by the chiefs of Ibadan for 999 years. The plan to set up the university can be linked to the 1945 reports of the Asquit and Elliot Commissions set up by the British Government in 1943. They started off with equipment that was transferred from Yaba Higher College (established 1932, opened 1934) and Yaba Medical School (established 1930). 104 students started the foundation classes (including 49 for the teacher training and survey courses) on the 18 January 1948. The formal opening took place on 25 March, 1948.
The university was offered a special relationship scheme by the London University in February 1948. Arthur Creech Jones, the then Secretary of State of Colonies cut the first sod at the permanent site of the University College on 17th November 1948. This day became the Foundation Day. The facilities provided in 1948 for the foundation medical students were inadequate which necessitated students to go to the London University for clinical training. The government however provided funds for more facilities which led to the building of a 500-bed University Teaching Hospital that was completed in 1957. The medical then received training in Ibadan with the first graduate leaving in 1960. This also led to the increase in the admissions offered that in the 1958/59 sessions, UCI had over 1000 students admitted and in 1963/64 the figure exceeded 2000 and 3000 in 1968/69.
The university even though is the first university college in the country to be set up; it was not the first to offer Nigerian degrees seeing that they had a special arrangement with the University of London. This place the University of Nigeria (UNN) as the first indigenous university in Nigeria. However in 1962 it was transformed into an independent University of Ibadan with 64 students enrolled for the graduate degrees.
From 1962 since it became an independent university, UI has graduated and awarded many degrees. It has enrolled 81,768 postgraduate students and awarded 45.709 higher degrees, 2 DSc. 4.366 PhDs, 36 MD/MS, 4700 MPhil/Professional Masters’s Degree and 4.281 Postgraduate Diplomas. UI has contributed immensely to the society and impacted on various sectors of the economy. Several of the Alumni returned to the university as professors and staff including the incumbent Vice-President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo, a professor of law.
Due to many admissions and limited funds the university could not cope with the on-campus accommodation but have also opened other campuses like in Jos. The university also encouraged students to live off-campus including married students. University of Ibadan has ten undergraduate Halls of Residence; Mellanby, Tedder, Kuti, Sultan Bello, Queen Elizabeth II, Alexander Brown (situated at UCH), Independence, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Idia, Obafemi Awolowo) and two postgraduate Halls of Residence, namely, Tafawa Balewa and the New Postgraduate Hall. Also the Obafemi Awolowo hall that provides accommodation for both undergraduate and postgraduate students of both sexes was later used by just undergraduate Hall of Residence (for both sexes) starting from 2001/2002 session.
Up until 1972 every Hall of Residence had its own catering facilities but it was later converted to a centralized catering service. A Central Cafeteria with a capacity of 1600 students was however completed on 4th January, 1976 which catered for most of the students. Due to the high student population, catering services were continued in some other halls of residence; Independence, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Queen Elizabeth, Tafawa Balewa and Alexander Brown Halls.
The catering services of students ceased after a Federal Government directive to Federal Universities to stop the services. And in 2001/2002 session contractors were awarded to handle each hall of residence catering services. Students now pay as they eat.
The students were encouraged to be involved in student unionism and it has been a feature of the university’s existence. It is housed in the magnificent complex known as the Student Union Building. Their aims include;
- To promote the social, cultural, intellectual and sporting activities of its members;
- To foster the general interests of its members;
- To contact, co-operate and exchange ideas with other external organizations whose aims are acceptable to the Union.
The Student Union has been encouraged to be part of the University Administration since 1973 including the Consultative Committee on Community Development, Student Welfare Board, Careers Board, Library Committee, Catering Board, Sports Council, Lodgings Bureau, Intra-campus Transportation Committee (ICTC), and the Student Disciplinary Committee.
The university also houses her junior, intermediate and senior staff. By 1977 there were 516 housing units were on campus. There are the University Hotels Ltd, the Pro-Chancellor’s lodge and other buildings. UI however does not provide accommodation for is senior staff due to maintenance problems and the increase in the number of junior and senior staff.
The University College Ibadan in 1948 was made up of three faculties; Arts, Science and Medicine but today there are 13 faculties; Arts, Science, Agriculture and Forestry, the Social Sciences, Education, Veterinary Medicine, Technology, Basic Medical Sciences, Pharmacy, Clinical Sciences, Law, Public Health and Dentistry.