Kenya&rsquo:s University of Nairobi

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The University of Nairobi is a pioneer institution in university education in Kenya and in the region. Established in 1956, the university has upheld its tradition of delivering diversified academic programmes and specialisations in sciences, technology, humanities, social sciences and arts. Currently the University has developed and evolved approximately 200 education programmes that are disseminated across the seven campuses located in the capital city of Nairobi, Kenya.

Far cry from the earliest years when the University was transformed from the existing Royal Technical College into the second University College in East Africa, in 1961 under the name, Royal College Nairobi. The University began preparing students in its Faculties of Arts, Science and Engineering for degrees of the University of London. Other faculties, such as the Faculty of Special Professional Studies (later called the Faculty of Commerce) and Faculty of Architecture offered diplomas for qualifications of professional bodies/institutions.

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On May 1964, the Royal College Nairobi was renamed University College of Nairobi, and was designated a constituent college of the inter-territorial Federal University of East Africa. This meant that the degrees awarded were of the University of East Africa and not of the University of London. Come 1970, the University College Nairobi underwent another transformation and emerged as the first national University in Kenya. However, another change was in the offing, which saw the University renamed as the University of Nairobi.

In 1983, the University restructured itself in order to decentralize administrative facilities by creating six campus colleges headed by individual principals. These are:

  • College of Agriculture & Veterinary Sciences (Upper Kabate Campus)
  • College of Architecture & Engineering (Main Campus)
  • College of Biological & Physical Sciences (Chiromo Campus)
  • College of Education & External Studies (Kikuyu Campus)
  • College of Health Sciences (Kenyatta National Hospital Campus)
  • College of Humanities & Social Sciences (Main Campus)

    From its inception in the 1960s, the University has expanded exponentially in terms of the number of students, staff and physical facilities. From about 2,580 undergraduate students and 184 postgraduate students in the 1970-71 academic year, to its current population of 36,000 students, 7,000 of which are postgraduate students pursuing their studies. In the same manner, the number of teaching staff has increased to 1,330 and an administrative and support staff of about 4,000. Over 90,000 graduates have passed through the University of Nairobi.

    The academic streams offered by the University of Nairobi have contributed significantly to the high-level training requirements of human resources in Kenya and Africa. Besides traditional areas, highly specialised areas such as Agricultural Science, Diplomacy and International Relations, Development Studies and Mass Communication are some of the areas not catered to by any other educational institution of higher learning in the country and the region. These addition of a continuing education or module II degree, diploma and certificate programmes has opened up the option of learning for those Kenyans, and even non-Kenyans who are not able to secure admission in the University itself due to limited places in the module I degree programmes.

    The rules and regulations for the module II programmes are the same as those for the the module I programmes. All very much in keeping with the University mission statement:  A centre for learning and scholarship; preparing students for academic pursuits, professional development, enhanced personal lives and responsible global citizenship; extending the frontiers of knowledge through research, creative works, and scholarship; fostering an intellectual culture that bridges theory with practise; contributing to social, economic, and cultural development; and through intellectual products, enhances the quality of life of the people of Kenya and all humanity.

    In fact, the core of the University’s offerings has been the intent to serve society through the transfer of intellectual and branded products to meet the changing needs of society through collaborations with industry, academic and professional fields in the search for solutions. An example of which would be the various international academic links and exchange programmes which number over a hundred. Also, on the list of academic initiatives is the Institute of Tropical & Infectious Diseases, which was jointly set up with the University of Manitoba. Other combined initiatives with the National Defence College and the Kenya college of Communications Technology have also been set up.

    Besides these, the University has not overlooked with the emergent need  for information technologies and ICT, with the inclusion of a School for Computing and Infomatics, the only national-level computer science school in Kenya that also trains computer scientists at the postgraduate and research levels.

    Recent developments world over have not left the University unaffected, as an outcome of the performance contract signed with the Government of Kenya, the University has started moving towards ISO certification, later this year. In order for the University to acquire certification, various training programmes have been launched, corresponding to the goals set in the performance contract, in the areas of:

    • Pedagogical training
    • Health and safety awareness
    • Customer service
    • Results-based management
    • ISO-certification training

    On the technological front, the University has increased it’s bandwidth and re-launched the University website ( with increased content available online. The University has invested heavily on ICT infrastructure. Many of the functions are now automated, more computer labs, processing of marks and transcripts is faster and information is readily available. Other efforts are also on to rework the student-to-PC ratios.

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