THIS UNIVERSITY, Zimbabwe’s oldest, has a long history. Immediately after World War II, in 1945/46, calls were made for the establishment of a university college to serve the needs of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and neighbouring territories. In 1952, classes commenced in downtown Salisbury (now Harare) and the following year the Queen Mother laid the foundation stone on the original buildings erected on the Mount Pleasant campus, where the university is still situated some six kilometres north of the capital city.
By the mid-1950s, the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was established, based on a special relationship with the University of London. From these foundations, and through the turbulent times
endured by Rhodesia and post-1980 Zimbabwe, has grown an institution of international reputation. The University of Zimbabwe (it was renamed after independence) offers academic programmes through nine faculties: Agriculture; Arts; Commerce; Education; Engineering; Law; Science; Social Studies; and Veterinary Medicine. A College of Medicine was established in 1963 at Parirenyatwa Hospital, Zimbabwe’s largest referral hospital.
Out of this wide array of academic facilities has flowed a stream of top-class talent. Here are a few examples: Arthur Mutambara, Rhodes Scholar and Professor of Robotics who worked for NASA, America’s space programme; Lawrence Levy, Africa’s first neurosurgeon who developed the Harare shunt for hydrocephalus; Christopher Chetsanga who when he was at Harvard University discovered two enzymes involved in DNA repair; and Dumbudzo Marechera, novelist and poet who was expelled from the University of Zimbabwe and later worked at New College, Oxford.
At one time, the university employed well over 1 000 professors, but by 2007 only 627 faculty staff remained. Some departments have since closed.
Facts and Figures at a Glance1
All 12,568 students at the University of Zimbabwe are contact students, with 87% of them being full-time. Almost all students (12,466) are Zimbabwean national, with 63 students from SADC countries and 39 students from other international, non-SADC countries.
Table 1: University of Zimbabwe - 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
Other qualifications (short courses, certificates etc.)
Science, Engineering & Technology
Business, Management & Law
Humanities and Social Sciences
Source: University of Zimbabwe questionnaire response
According to its web site, the University employs a total staff complement of almost 3,000. This comprises lecturing and non-lecturing staff but excludes part-time staff.
 All data presented in this section is headcount data.