University of Zambia

IDEAS TO establish a university in Lusaka were shelved in 1953 when the Federation of Southern and Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland was created. Almost a decade was to pass, which saw the dismantling of the Federation, before the idea was formally revived. A British academic led a commission to advise the government, and the result of its deliberation was the founding of the University of Zambia.

The two main existing higher education institutions – the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute, a research institute dating back to the 1938, and the Oppenheimer College of Social Service – had been incorporated by mid-1965, and the new university moved into the Oppenheimer College premises that were being extensively expanded at the time. The University of Zambia began operating in March 1966.

At first, academic programmes were offered in three schools: Education; Humanities and Social Sciences; and Natural Sciences. As physical facilities developed, and specific needs were recognised, new schools were added: Law in 1967; Engineering in 1969; Medicine in 1970; Agricultural Sciences in 1971; and Mines in 1973.

By 1975, the decision had been made to create two more campuses, one at Ndola 250 km north of Lusaka and a third campus at Solwezi in the northwest of the country. Onto the Ndola campus came the schools of Business and Industrial Studies in 1978; and Environmental Studies in 1981. By the late 1980s, two autonomous universities had been created: the University of Zambia in Lusaka and the Copperbelt University in the north.

Today, the University of Zambia has nine schools operating on the Lusaka and Solwezi campuses; and, in spite of high student/staff ratios, a special Directorate of Research and Graduate Studies articulates the university’s ambition to become ‘a centre of excellence in research and graduate studies that will contribute to the dissemination of new knowledge in Zambia’.

Facts and Figures at a Glance1

Based on 2007 figures, most of the students enrolled at the University of Zambia are full-time, contact students (7,983) together with some distance education students (1,785) and a small number of part-time students (354). Zambian nationals account for 10,049 of the student population, a total of 18 students come from other SADC countries and 55 from other non-SADC countries. It was also noted that 37 of these international students are students with refugee status.

Table 1: University of Zambia - Summary of Enrolment Numbers (Actual data, 2007 first semester)


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 2,309 2,274 4 23 8
Business, Management & Law 436 396 23 13 4
Humanities and Social Sciences 6,533 6,351 9 165 8
Health Sciences 844 755 2 83 4
TOTALS 10,122 9,776 38 284 24

Source: University of Zambia questionnaire response

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

Major Field Of Study

Total Number (headcount)

Science, Engineering & Technology 158
Business, Management & Law 27
Humanities and Social Sciences 133
Health Sciences 71
TOTALS 389 (82%)

Source: University of Zambia questionnaire response


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