The idea that Malawi should have a University was first conceived soon after the country got its independence in 1964. In October 1964, the University of Malawi was founded under the University of Malawi (Provisional Council) Act which was later replaced by the University of Malawi Act of 1974. The Act was further amended in 1998.
Teaching started on 29th September 1965 at the newly established campus which used to be an Asian Secondary School in Blantyre. Only 90 students had been enrolled. By 1967, the then Institute of Public Administration at Mpemba, the Soche Hill College of Education, the Polytechnic, all these in Blantyre, and Bunda College in Lilongwe were incorporated as constituent colleges of the University of Malawi.
Except Bunda College and the Polytechnic, the other colleges moved to Zomba in 1973 to form the now Chancellor College campus.
Kamuzu College of Nursing became the fourth constituent college in September 1979 and the College of Medicine in Blantyre became the fifth constituent college when it was established in 1991. At present 7, 371 students are enrolled in various degree, diploma and certificate programmes.