University of Lagos

University of Lagos Senate Building in the foreground
University Avenue, UNILAG, with senate building in the foreground. Photo: Quintard Taylor

University of Lagos, federal government owned university in Lagos founded in 1962. Unilag as it is called, has two campuses, Akoka, Yaba, which is the main campus and Idi Araba, Surulere in which the College of Medicine is located. It has one of the highest student populations in the country, for the obvious reasons of its metropolitan siting. Westward beside the university campus is the scenic Lagos Lagoon and the transverse Third Mainland Bridge.

Admission Unilag for undergraduate study is through Ordinary level qualifications plus success in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination. Another hurdle was added in recent years, so that the University itself would test successful candidates before they are admitted. The school also runs a special Diploma program through which admission into second year in the school can be achieved.

University of Lagos has maintained top positions among other institutions of higher learning in Africa. While breakthrough researches of global acclaim are been awaited, the delay in this continues to be blamed on poor funding by the Federal Government. The decision by the Goodluck Jonathan administration to rename the school after the very popular winner of the 1993 Nigerian Presidential election, Moshood Abiola, was resisted.

The First year

Independence was coming for Nigeria, and the need to equip professionals and boost the country’s manpower was becoming more obvious. It appeared no one gave it a thought at this time that a University could possibly thrive in Lagos. It was natural to push the monk-like life of the University to the hinterland. When the Eric Ashby Commission, constituted by the winding colonial authority in 1959 recommended the creation of a University in Lagos, they appeared not too sure, for the University in their minds were to offer only day and evening classes in Commerce, Business, Administration, Economics and Higher Management Studies.

Ashbly Commission had on the other hand shown conviction in their recommendations for Universities in the North and Eastern regions of the country. Detailed planning for proposed Universities were committed to the UNESCO Advisory Commission. The tone of UNESCO’s voice for Lagos was, “why not”, as they recommended a traditional University, a complete, all encompassing residential institution in the protectorate. The Federal Government, seeing the conviction they needed, quickly arranged for the creation of the University of Lagos in October 1962.

Unlike the older Universities, the Parliament Act establishing the school made provisions for two almost parallel institutions, the University itself and the Medical school. This arrangement in which the two institutions have separate councils was revisited in 1967 when a single Council was established for the whole University, without compromising the autonomy that the Medical College is believed to deserve. Movement to the school’s permanent site at Akoka from a secondary school in Idi Araba had taken place two years before this time, in the month of September.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer