The University of Benin was founded in 1970. It started as an Institute of Technology and was accorded the status of a full-fledged University by National Universities Commission (NUC) on 1st July, 1971. In his Budget Speech in April 1972, the then Military Governor of Mid-Western State, Col. S. O. Ogbemudia (then also Visitor to the University) formally announced the change of the name of the Institute of Technology to the University of Benin. On 1st April, 1975 the University at the request of the State Government, was taken over by the Federal Government and became a Federal University. Today, the University has continued to grow from strength to strength with a number of Faculties, Departments, Institutes and Units. Following NUC’s directives, the University experimented with the Collegiate System in 1991/92 and 1992/93.
In January 2006, the Federal Government approved the take off of the College of Petroleum and Gas Engineering of the University of Benin at Effurun, near Warri, in Delta State, with the initial population of 100 students in two departments; Petroleum Engineering and Gas Engineering. The University offers courses at various levels: Postgraduate, Undergraduate, Diploma and Certificate. Presently, the total student enrollment stands at over 40,000 made up of both full-time and part-time students shared among the various Faculties. In 1985, Grace Alele-Williams became Nigeria's first female vice-chancellor when she was appointed to head the University of Benin. She served as its vice-chancellor until 1991. The University is also famous for ground breaking research work with other universities around the world and with both local and international bodies such as USAID, Ford Foundation, UNCF (United Negro College Fund), RMRDC (Raw Materials Research & Development Council of Nigeria) amongst others in the areas of Agriculture, Public Health and Engineering to name a few