ONLY IN 1962, after the struggle for Angolan independence had well and truly begun, did the Portuguese authorities establish a state-funded university in Angola. The Estudos Gerais Universitarios de Angola was originally established in Luanda and began to award a range of degrees from engineering to medicine. It is worth comparing this single university with the four public universities in Portugal itself at that time. By 2008, the number in Portugal had grown to 14, but Angola’s tally remained at one.
The fortunes of the Angolan university were closely tied to the fortunes of the country itself. In 1968, the institution was renamed Universidade de Luanda; and in 1979, four years after independence from Portugal, the university was completely restructured as Universidade de Angola to replace the higher education concepts of colonial times. While the civil war raged, academic variety was replaced with pragmatism: the new institution was geared almost exclusively to producing secondary school teachers to address the high levels of illiteracy in the country. Since then, however, the university (renamed Universidade Agostinho Neto in 1985 to honour the first president of an independent Angola) has diversified significantly.
A feature of the Universidade Agostinho Neto is that its numerous faculties and institutes of higher education are housed in campuses spread across ten of the 18 provinces of the country. For example, the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences is situated in Huambo, a School of Science and Technology in Namibe, Institutes of Science in Education in Lubango, Benguela, Huambo, Cabinda and Uige, and a Pedagogical School at Lunda-Norte.
Although the university depends overwhelmingly on funding from the state, contributions from entities operating within Angola, such as the oil and diamond companies, have begun to create opportunities for alternative funding sources for Angolan higher education.