Mzuzu University

THIS YOUNG University is developing into an important tertiary education force in northern Malawi.  It was established in 1997, as a response to the growing demand for higher education teaching and research to support sustainable development in one of Africa’s poorer countries.  It opened its doors in 1999 to 65 full-time undergraduate students who were taught by five lecturers.  Six years later, the equivalent figures were 600 students and more than 50 full-time lecturers.  The current number of academic and research staff is 120 (19 of them females), with 63 in technology and the sciences, 48 in the humanities and social sciences, and nine in health.

To begin with, the university was comprised of the following faculties: education, information science and communications, environmental sciences, health sciences, tourism and hospitality management.  Future additions will be a Faculty of Law and Commerce, and others dealing with the general sciences and another with veterinary science.  The university already has 23 masters and nine doctoral students.

Several short-term training programmes are worthy of mention.  The first relates to secondary teacher improvement; the second to training in renewable energy technologies; and the third, hosted by the Department of Land Management involves training in geography information systems.  The latter training course will prove invaluable to more fully understand the country’s environmental challenges of high population densities, deforestation, soil erosion and lack of safe drinking water.  With regard to renewable energy technologies, the university has already set up a test and training centre.  In addition, more than 200 secondary school teachers from Malawi schools have passed through the intensive three-month updating course in mathematics and science.

One area of concern for the university authorities is the low level of research output.  Now research workshops are planned for academic staff, and the Directorate of Research is being consolidated to undertake research promotion.

Facts and Figures  at a Glance1

All students at the Mzuzu University are full time, contact students. In 2008, the University had a total enrolment of 1,612 students, of whom 1,605 are Malawian nationals, with five students from SADC countries and five from outside of the SADC region.

Table 1: Mzuzu University - Summary of Enrolment Numbers (Actual data, 2008)


Number of students enrolled per level of study

Major Field of Study

Total Number of Students (Headcount)

Under- graduate degree/ diploma Post-graduate degree/ diploma Masters Degree Doctoral Degree Other qualifications (short courses, certificates etc.)
Science, Engineering & Technology 637 618 1 18 0

Secondary School Teacher Improvement Programme (SSTIP): 223

Short-term training in Renewable Energy Technologies
(RET): 30

Short-term training in Geography Information Systems
(GIS): 144

Humanities & Social Sciences 562 533 8 12 9  0
Health Sciences 206 131 75  0 0 0
TOTALS 1,405
1,282 84 30 9 0

 Source: Mzuzu University questionnaire response

Table 2: Mzuzu University - Academic and Research staff (Actual data, 2007)

Major Field Of Study

Total Number (headcount)

Science, Engineering & Technology 63
Humanities and Social Sciences 48
Health Sciences 9

Source: Mzuzu University questionnaire response

Table 3: Mzuzu University - Other Courses



Certificate in Security Studies 22
Diploma in Security Studies 10
Diploma in Library & Information Science 11
Centre for Continuing Education 213
GRAND TOTAL (1,405+256) 1,661

Source: Mzuzu University questionnaire response

[1] All data presented in this section is headcount data.