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University of Nairobi
Coat of Arms of the University
Former name
  • Royal Technical College of East Africa (1956–1961)[1]
  • Royal College of Nairobi (1961–1964)[2]
  • University College, Nairobi (1964–1970)
MottoLatin: Unitate et labore
Motto in English
"In unity and work"
Established1 July 1970; 53 years ago (1970-07-01), as University of Nairobi
Parent institution
Formerly the University of London and the University of East Africa
ChancellorProf. Patrick Verkooijen
Vice-ChancellorProfessor Stephen Kiama
University Wy, Nairobi, Kenya
, ,

1°16′47″S 36°49′00″E / 1.27972°S 36.81667°E / -1.27972; 36.81667
Colors  Sky blue

The University of Nairobi (uonbi or UoN; Swahili: Chuo Kikuu cha Nairobi)[3] is a collegiate research university based in Nairobi and is the largest university in Kenya.[4] Although its history as an educational institution dates back to 1956, it did not become an independent university until 1970. During that year, the University of East Africa was split into three independent universities: the Makerere University in Uganda, the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, and the University of Nairobi in Kenya.

During the 2023 academic year, the university had 49,047 students, of whom 35,897 were undergraduates and 11,003 were postgraduates.[5][6] 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.[7]


The inception of the University of Nairobi dates back to 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 Professor James Morton Hyslop,[8] formerly of the University of Witwatersrand under the name Royal College of Nairobi.[9] It joined the University of London's 'schemes of special relations' and began preparing students in the faculties of Arts, Science and Engineering for University of London award degrees. 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 of Nairobi was renamed University College Nairobi as a constituent college of the Federal University of East Africa. During this time, enrolled students studied for college degrees awarded by the University of East Africa instead of the University of London. 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. It 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 Kenyan colonial 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 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 with the colonial government. 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.[10]

In 2001, the first Confucius Institute in Africa opened as a collaboration between University of Nairobi and Tianjin Normal University in China.[11]: 139 


It is a body corporate established under the Universities Act 2012 of the Laws of Kenya and the Charter.[12]

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, 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 decentralization 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,[13] phasing out the colleges.




University rankings
Global – Overall
QS World[80]1001–1200 (2024)
THE World[81]1201–1500 (2024)

In 2023, Times Higher Education ranked the university within the 1201–1500 band globally.[81]

Notable alumni

See also: Category:University of Nairobi alumni

See also


  1. ^ "1956-Opening of the Royal Technical College of East Africa". UoN. 24 October 1956. Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  2. ^ Hyslop, James (1960). "Principal of the Royal College of Nairobi (University of Nairobi)". UoN. Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  3. ^ "Latest News | UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI". Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  4. ^ "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.
  5. ^ "Students | University of Nairobi". Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  6. ^ Ngala, John. "The rot that is Nairobi University halls of residence". Standard Digital News. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  7. ^ "Annual Report" (PDF). University of Nairobi. 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  8. ^ "Browsing Vice-chancellors by Author "Hyslop, James, Morton"".
  9. ^ Royal College of Nairobi
  10. ^ "Nairobi University eyes Sh500m fund to sponsor high potential". Daily Nation. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  11. ^ Shinn, David H.; Eisenman, Joshua (2023). China's Relations with Africa: a New Era of Strategic Engagement. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-21001-0.
  12. ^ "Latest News – UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI".
  13. ^ "Governance Reforms: VC presents a new Governance Structure for UoN on 14th July 2021 | Office of the Vice-Chancellor | University of Nairobi".
  14. ^ "Home | Faculty Of Veterinary Medicine". Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  15. ^ "University of Nairobi | FACULTY OF ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES". Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  16. ^ "Uon | Faculty Of Science & Technology". Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  17. ^ "Home | Faculty Of Law". Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  18. ^ "Home | Faculty Of Agriculture". Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  19. ^ "University Of Nairobi | Faculty Of Business And Management Sciences". Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  20. ^ "UoN | Faculty of Education". Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  21. ^ "University of Nairobi | FACULTY OF ARTS". Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  22. ^ "Welcome | Faculty Of Engineering". Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  23. ^ "Built Environment | Faculty Of The Built Environment And Design". Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  24. ^ "Faculty of Health Sciences | FACULTY OF HEALTH SCIENCES". Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  25. ^ "Agrieconomic | Department Of Agricultural Economics". Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  26. ^ "foodtech | Department of Food Science, Nutrition & Technology". Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  27. ^ "Home | Department Of Land Resource Management & Agricultural Technology". Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  28. ^ "Department of Plant Science & Crop Protection | DEPARTMENT OF PLANT SCIENCE & CROP PROTECTION". Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  29. ^ "University of Nairobi | DEPARTMENT OF LINGUISTICS AND LANGUAGES". Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  30. ^ "University of Nairobi | Department of History & Archeology". Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  31. ^ "University of Nairobi | Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies". Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  32. ^ "University of Nairobi | Department of Library and Information Science". Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  33. ^ "Arts and Design | Department of Art & Design". Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  34. ^ "Architecture | DEPARTMENT OF ARCHITECTURE". Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  35. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 August 2021. Retrieved 28 June 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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  81. ^ a b "World University Rankings: University of Nairobi". Times Higher Education.