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The University of Nairobi, a body corporate established under the Universities Act 2012 of the laws of Kenya and the University of Nairobi Charter, is the pioneer institution of University education in Kenya and the region.
The only institution of higher learning in Kenya for a long time, the University of Nairobi responded to the national, regional and Africa's high level manpower training needs by developing and evolving strong, diversified academic programmes and specializations in basic sciences, applied sciences, technology, humanities, social sciences and the arts.
Through module II (continuing education) programmes, invaluable opportunity has been opened to hundreds of Kenyans and non-Kenyans, 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 this effort, the location of the seven campuses of the University in the capital city and its environs and facilitating easy access, has been an asset that has seen the university increasingly become the busy hub and citadel of academic activity at all times.
In addition to the regular and evening and weekend programmes, classes are conducted at the University's Extra Mural Centres located at the country's county headquarters.
The university is proud of its distinguished record of achievements in teaching, research, development and consultancy while strategizing for a greater future as the centre of academic, research and professional excellence.
The inception of the University of Nairobi is traced back to 1956, with the establishment of the Royal Technical College which admitted its first lot 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 25th June, 1961 under the name Royal College Nairobi and was admitted into a special relations with the University of London whereupon it immediately began preparing students in the faculties of Arts, Science and Engineering for award degrees of the University of London. 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 20th May 1964, the Royal College Nairobi was renamed University College Nairobi as a constituent college of inter-territorial, Federal University of East Africa, and henceforth the enrolled students were to study for degrees of the University of East Africa and not London as was the case before. In 1970, the University College Nairobi transformed into the first national university in Kenya and was renamed the University of Nairobi.
In view of the rapid expansion and complexities in administration, the University underwent a major restructuring in 1983 resulting in decentralization of the administration, by creation of six (6) colleges headed by principals. The following are the names and respective locations of the colleges:
- College of Agriculture & Veterinary Sciences situated at Upper Kabete Campus
- College of Architecture & Engineering situated at the Main Campus
- College of Biological & Physical Sciences situated at Chiromo Campus
- College of Education & External Studies situated at Kikuyu Campus
- College of Health Sciences situated at the Kenyatta National Hospital
- College of Humanities and Social sciences situated at the Main Campus -Faculty of Arts ; Parklands-Faculty of Law; Lower Kabete Campus -Faculty of Commerce
As an institution of higher learning, the University of Nairobi has contributed greatly to the development of Kenya. The university, in turn, has benefited much from its location, in the country's capital, Nairobi, as well as, from the efforts of the nation's diverse population. Below are some highlights of the University development, as well as, factual information on its setting.
The University of Nairobi owes its origin to several developments in higher education within the country and the region. The idea of an institution for higher learning in Kenya goes back to 1947 when the Kenya Government drew up a plan for the establishment of a technical and commercial institute in Nairobi. By 1949, this plan had grown into an East African concept aimed at providing higher technical education for the region. In September 1951, a Royal Charter was issued to the Royal Technical College of East Africa and the foundation stone of the college was laid in April 1952.
During the same period, the Asian Community of East Africa was also planning to build a College for Arts, Science and Commerce as a living memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. To avoid duplication of efforts, Gandhi Memorial Academy Society agreed to merge interests with those of the East African Governments. Thus, the Gandhi Memorial Academy was incorporated into the Royal Technical College of East Africa in April 1954, and the college proceeded to open its doors to the first intake of students in April 1956.
Soon after the arrival of students at the college, the pattern of higher education in East Africa 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 of East Africa was transformed. On 25th 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 20th 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 st July 1970, the University of East Africa was dissolved and the three East African countries set up their national Universities. This development saw the birth of the University of Nairobi set up by an Act of Parliament.
Since 1970, the University of Nairobi has seen many innovations, which have contributed to its development and that of the nation. It has grown from a faculty based university serving a student population of 2,768 to a college focused university serving over 36,000 currently. To attain this level of educational progress has been no small feat. Recent years have witnessed the following:
- Mushrooming of academic programmes in the 1970s;
- Establishment of Campus Colleges in 1985:
- First double intake in 1986;
- Property acquisition resulting in Lower Kabete and Parklands Campuses in 1988; and the
- Intake of the first students undertaking the University component of the 8-4-4 educational system in 1990
- Introduction of Module II and part-time programmes.
Truly, the University's development has been as broad as its current wide scope. These developments have realised a tremendous increase in student intake. From a humble beginning as a technical college to the status of a major international teaching and research institution, the University of Nairobi has produced more trained human resources than any other' institution of higher learning in Kenya, with over 40,000 graduates to its credit.
Kenya became independent in December 1963. The republic is approximately 582,644 square Kilometers and lies astride the equat6r on the Eastern seaboard of Africa. Kenya's coastline on the Indian Ocean stretches from the Somalia border in the north, to Tanzania in the south, a distance of 620 kilometers'
Kenya lies between Somalia to the East, Ethiopia to the North, Sudan to the northwest, Uganda to the West and Tanzania to the South. The country is cut across by the Great Rift Valley which runs from North to South and whose depth is between 610 and 914 meters below the rest of the landscape.
Altitude governs the climate of different parts of Kenya. The land above 1609 meters enjoys a climate with good rainfall. Being on the equator, there are no marked seasonal changes. In most parts of the country there are two rainy seasons - "long" and "short" rains.
The economy of Kenya, at present, depends mainly on agriculture (tea, coffee, dairy produce, meat, sisal, pyrethrum) and tourism. There is fairly extensive light industry in Nairobi and to a lesser extent in other large towns. One tourist attraction is the large variety of flora and fauna to be found in the National Parks.
Kenya's population is about 38 million with a concentration in the central and western parts of the country. The northern and north eastern parts of the country have sparse population due to the semi desert climatic conditions prevalent there.
The University is situated in Nairobi, a fast growing city with a population of over 3.5 million. The city center has an area of over 700 square kilometers and stands at an altitude of 1,675 meters above sea level. It is 140 kilometers south of the equator and some 480 kilometres west of the Indian Ocean This beautiful city experiences no real winter or summer because it is near the equator and at a high altitude. The days in Nairobi are warm and the nights cool for the greater part of the year. With the temperature rarely rising above 80 degrees F (27 degrees C) in the middle of the day or falling below 50 degrees F (10 degrees C) at night, Nairobi enjoys a temperate climate. The hottest periods, however, occur between January and March and August and October with the coolest period in July. The long rains fall from the end of March to the end of May while the short rains are experienced from the end of October to December. The average annual rainfall is about 2000 mm
Nairobi is the capital, commercial, administrative and cultural centre of Kenya. In Nairobi are found the Parliament Buildings, Headquarters of Government Ministries and Departments. Also, the city is home to City Hall, State House, National Museums of Kenya, Snake Park, Aviary, Arboretum, Mosques, Municipal Markets, Art Galleries, Kenyatta International Conference Centre which houses one of the largest Conference Halls in the World, about a dozen cinemas, numerous hotels, coffee houses and beautiful parks.