Top 10 Oldest Universities In Africa and their Year of Establishment

Oldest Universities In Africa: Africa takes pride in having some of the world’s most educated people. Surprisingly, the majority of them received their degrees from schools on the continent, owing to the abundance of approved institutions. However, with so many new institutions and more on the horizon, it’s important to remember that some have been there for a long time.

Some of her institutions date back to 859 AD and are located throughout the continent. So, which African universities are the oldest? When did they get started? The following is a list of some of these institutions, along with their founding year and location.

Recommended: Top 10 Best Universities in Africa

Top 10 Oldest Universities In Africa and Their Year of Establishment

1. University of Al-Karaouine

Location: Fes, Morocco

Established in: 859 AD

Fatima al-Fihri (the child of a rich businessman named Mohammed Al-Fihri) founded the University of Al-Karaouine or Al-Qarawiyyin in859, along with a madrasa. It is Africa’s first university. It is among the Muslim world’s most important spiritual and educational hubs, and it is the world’s oldest continually running institution of higher learning.

Oldest Universities In Africa
Oldest Universities In Africa

The University of Al-Karaouine is the world’s oldest continually operational, degree-granting university, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Leo Africanus, Muhammad al-Idrisi (a geographer), and Maimonides, a Jewish philosopher, are among the university’s noteworthy graduates.

2. Al-Azhar University

Location: Cairo, Egypt

Established in: 972 AD

The University of Al-Azhar” is Egypt’s oldest degree-granting university and is known as “Sunni Islam’s most distinguished university.” It is affiliated with the Al-Azhar Mosque in Islamic Cairo. By October 975 AD, studies at Al-Azhar had begun in Ramadan, when Chief Justice Abul Hasan Ali ibn Al-No’man began teaching the Shiite jurisprudence text “Al-Ikhtisar.”

Oldest Universities in Africa and Their Year of Establishment
Oldest Universities in Africa and Their Year of Establishment

The Fatimids established it as a center of Islamic study in 970 or 972, and its pupils studied the Qur’an and Islamic law in depth, as well as logic, grammar, rhetoric, and how to calculate lunar phases.

It was among the world’s first institutions, and the only one in the Arabic world, to survive as a contemporary university with a secular curriculum. It is now the world’s most important hub for Arabic literature and Islamic studies. Its curriculum was expanded to include non-religious studies in 1961. As a result, that year is regarded to be the year it became a modern university (1961).

Recommended: Youngest Countries in the World 2022

3. Fourah Bay College – University of Sierra Leone

Location: Freetown, Sierra Leone

Established in: 1827

In Freetown, Sierra Leone, Fourah Bay College is a public university in the Mount Aureol district. It is the earliest and first western-style university in West Africa, having been established on February 18, 1827.

Who founded the first university in the world
Who founded the first university in the world

It was also the first western-style institution to be erected in the region. It is among the University of Sierra Leone’s constituent colleges.

Several significant Sierra Leone leaders have attended the university, as well as numerous Ghanaians who played key roles in the country’s independence (Kojo Botsio, Casely Hayford).

4. University of Cape Town

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Established in: 1829

The Institution of Cape Town (UCT) is a public research university in Cape Town, South Africa’s Western Cape region. Together with Stellenbosch University, which was granted full university status on the same day in 1918, it is the oldest institution in South Africa. It is also the oldest existent university in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Oldest Universities in South Africa
Oldest Universities in South Africa

In the QS World Institution Rankings, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities, UCT is the highest-ranked African university, and its Law and Commerce faculties are routinely rated among the top hundred in the world.

In addition, UCT was just named the best institution in Africa for graduate employability. Ralph Bunche, Max Theiler, Allan McLeod Cormack, Aaron Klug, and Professor Emeritus J. M. Coetzee are among the notable graduates. All of them have won Nobel Prizes for their outstanding contributions to respective disciplines.

Also see: Advantages and Disadvantages of Being an Entrepreneur

5. Cairo University

Location: Giza, Egypt

Established in: 1908

Egypt’s Cairo University was established on December 21, 1908. Previously, it was known as “Egyptian University” and then “Fuad University.” In contrast to the religious institution of Al Azhar, Cairo University was formed as a European-inspired civil university, and it became the primary indigenous model for other state universities.

Some of Africa's Oldest Universities
Some of Africa’s Oldest Universities

Cairo University is consistently regarded as one of Egypt’s best universities and one of Africa’s best institutions. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Saddam Hussein, Mohamed Morsi, Naguib Mahfouz (Nobel Peace Prize winner), Yasser Arafat (Nobel Peace Prize winner), Mohamed ElBaradei (Nobel Peace Prize winner), and Taher Elgamal, the designer of the ElGamal encryption system and known as the “Father of SSL,” are all notable alumni of Cairo University.

6. University of Algiers

Location: Algiers, Algeria

Established in: 1909

The University of Algiers sprang from a number of higher-education institutions established in Algeria’s first university during French colonial control in the nineteenth century. It is known as Mother University and is located in Algiers, Algeria’s capital.

What is the name of the oldest university of West Africa?
What is the name of the oldest university of West Africa?

Albert Camus, Elias Zerhouni, and Lakhdar Brahimi are among the University of Algiers’ prominent graduates.

Also see: Differences Between Dating and Relationship

7. Makerere University

Location: Kampala, Uganda

Established in: 1922

Makerere University, Kampala, was founded in 1922 as a technical school and is Uganda’s largest university. It was renamed the University of East Africa in1963, and it began providing courses leading to University of London general degrees.

Which was the First university in the Africa?
Which was the First university in the Africa?

When the University of East Africa was separated into three autonomous institutions in1970, the University of Nairobi (Kenya), the University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), and Makerere University, it became an independent national university.

Makerere University now has nine colleges and one school, with over 36,000 undergraduates and 4,000 postgraduates enrolled in its programs. Mwai Kibaki, Joseph Kabila, Benjamin Mkapa, and Julius Nyerere are among the many political personalities who have served their nation, Uganda, and other African leaders who have attended Makerere University.

8. University of Ghana

Location: Legon – Accra, Ghana

Established in: 1948

The University of Ghana is the first and largest of Ghana’s several public institutions, having been granted full university status in 1961 and today enrolling almost 40,000 students. It was formerly an affiliate of the University of London, which oversaw its academic programs and conferred degrees, and was formed in 1948 in the British colony of the Gold Coast as the University College of the Gold Coast.

The liberal arts, social sciences, law, fundamental science, agriculture, and medicine were originally prioritized. The university’s curriculum was enlarged as part of a national educational reform effort to include additional technology-based and vocational courses, as well as postgraduate study.

The Ghana Atomic Energy Commission also maintains a graduate school of nuclear and allied sciences, making it among the few universities on the African continent to provide programs in nuclear physics and nuclear engineering.
Three Ghanaian presidents, Akua Kuenyehia, Komla Dumor, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, and others, are notable graduates.

Also see: Richest Tribes in Africa 2022: Top 10

9. University of Ibadan

Location: Ibadan, Nigeria

Established in: 1948

The University of Ibadan (UI) is the country’s oldest university, approximately five miles (8 kilometers) from the heart of Ibadan, Nigeria’s largest city.  On campus, the institution features distinct botanical garden gardens, as well as residential and sporting facilities for staff and students.
Wole Soyinka, the 1986 Nobel Laureate in Literature, is among Unibadan’s most well-known graduates.

The university of Zimbabwe (UZ) is Zimbabwe’s oldest and best-ranked university, located in Harare. It was formed in 1952 as a result of a unique collaboration with the University of London, and the first students were admitted in 1952.

10. University of Zimbabwe

Location: Harare, Zimbabwe

Established in: 1952

The University of Zimbabwe’s main campus is in the Mount Pleasant district in northern Harare. The Medical School campus in Parirenyatwa Hospital in downtown Harare is the main satellite campus. It is where the College of Health Sciences is located.

Blocks of apartments for staff and student accommodation in Avondale, the Avenues, and Mount Pleasant are among the university’s other Harare sites.

Recommended: Differences Between Judicial Separation And Divorce


Africa, with its different educational facilities, provides students with several options. This article has highlighted Africa’s oldest institutions, which have undergone restorations and alterations throughout the years to match current academic requirements in order to give the best for students globally.