University of Malawi

ONLY AFTER Malawi had gained its independence from Great Britain in 1964 was the idea of a national university mooted. The result was the founding of the University of Malawi only a few months after independence, although teaching did not start for another year. The first campus comprised disused Asian secondary school buildings in Blantyre, and only 90 students had been enrolled for the first academic year. Thereafter began the task of drawing into the university fold the several specialised tertiary institutions and colleges that were operating around the country. An Institute of Public Administration (for the training of civil servants), the Soche Hill College of Education (for the training of teachers) and a polytechnic (for technical training in a number of fields) were the first to be incorporated as constituent colleges of the University of Malawi. The Bunda College of Agriculture near the new capital city of Lilongwe soon followed.

In 1973, new university facilities were built at Zomba, some 70 kilometres northeast of Blantyre, where some of the constituent colleges were consolidated into the Chancellor College Campus of the university. Two other constituent colleges were added later: the Kamazu College of Nursing in 1979 and the College of Medicine when it was established in Blantyre in 1991. The vision of the University of Malawi is to provide ‘relevant, world-class education, research and services for the sustainable development of Malawi and the world’.

A powerful tool for the development of this largely rural country with its long lake shoreline is Bunda College, originally offering a single course in aquaculture and wildlife, but now providing a wide range of agricultural courses, from numerous undergraduate BSc degrees to doctorates in animal science, biotechnology, rural development, agricultural and resource economics – as well as aquaculture and fisheries science.

Facts and Figures at a Glance1

The University of Malawi is a contact institution. In 2007, it had 6,257 students, all of them studying full-time Most of the students (6,226) are Malawian citizens with 26 students being from SADC countries and five students from other international, non-SADC countries.

Table 1: University of Malawi - Summary of Enrolment Numbers (Actual data, 2007)


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
Science, Engineering & Technology 2,199 2,140 0 59 0
Business, Management & Law 955 870 0 85 0
Humanities and Social Sciences 1,148 1,104 0 44 0
Health Sciences 846 771 0 75 0
Other (Education) 1,109 1,030 0 79 0
TOTALS 6,257 5,915 0 342 0

Source: University of Malawi questionnaire response

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

Major Field Of Study

Total Number (headcount)

Science, Engineering & Technology 319
Business, Management & Law 67
Humanities and Social Sciences 97
Health Sciences 131
Other (Education) 62

Source: University of Malawi questionnaire response



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